Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Rossetti, Christina

(1830-1894) Italian poet, born and raised in UK, sister of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and niece of John Polidori. Her grandfather published some of her poems privately as Verses (coll 1847), and her work began to appear in The Athenaeum from 1848. Through her brother she became associated with the Preraphaelites, and her verses appeared in the Brotherhood's magazine The Germ in 1850 as by Ellen Alleyne. Most of her work is religious, but some of her early poems are of a more imaginative nature. Her best-known is Goblin Market and Other Poems (coll 1862). The title verse is a Fairytale in which Goblins tempt two young sisters to eat fairy fruit. One succumbs and drifts into a delirium but the other refuses and tries to save her sister. CR denied the sexual undertones of the poem, but it has always retained notoriety. The title poem of The Prince's Progress and Other Poems (coll 1866; reissued with above as Goblin Market, The Prince's Progress and Other Poems coll 1875; vt Poems 1876 US) is an Allegory in which a prince sets out to marry his bride but gives in to temptations en route and dallies too long so that his bride dies of despair. It was written as a reversal of the Motif of Sleeping Beauty. Sing-Song, a Nursery-Rhyme Book (1872) was for children.

CR wrote several stories, their form and content influenced by the Fairytales of Hans Christian Andersen. They are more aggressive than her poetry, serving as a channel for darker emotions. "Hero" (1865 Argosy) was written in the mid-1850s during the wave of fairytale mania in the UK; it is a clever observation of the clash of cultures on the borders of Faerie and of the Metamorphosis that comes over the Hero in his Quest for beauty and love. "Nick" (1857 National Magazine) is a violent interpretation of the Three-Wishes motif in Fable form. In Speaking Likenesses (1874 chap) a child awakes to find that the others at her party have taken on the form that reflects their individual characteristics (> Transformation). There is also the lost "Folio Q. Case 2", written circa 1860, which CR destroyed after it failed to sell. Her brother William Michael Rossetti (1829-1919), who edited her Complete Poetical Works (1904), recalled that it was about a man cursed with no Shadow, and regarded it as her best story. The most complete volume of CR's work currently available is Poems and Prose (coll 1994) ed Jan Marsh, who has also written Christina Rossetti: A Literary Biography (1994). [MA]

Christina Georgina Rossetti


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.