Pre-Raphaelites in The City: Christina Rossetti on the Radio!

Dinah Roe

Christina Rossetti on the Radio! Thursday 1 Dec, In Our Time, Radio 4

This coming Thursday’s broadcast of ‘In Our Time’ promises to feature ‘the life and work of the Victorian poet Christina Rossetti.’ I’m not sure who Melvyn Bragg’s guests will be, but let’s hope they give full credit to her technical skill and sophisticated metaphysics, rather than going down the well-trodden route of dismissing her religious commitment as dogmatic, self-hating and detrimental to her creativity. The blurb mentions that she was ‘best known for her ballads and religious poetry’. I do hope the programme will give full credit to her as a writer of sonnets. In my opinion, there is no superior Victorian master of the form. There is also the matter of Goblin Market, a poem which defies easy classification …

I’m sure they will discuss her close relationship with her brother Dante Gabriel Rossetti. You can see his 1866 chalk portrait of her here. She is at the height of her poetic powers in this period, as her brother’s picture makes clear. Gabriel Rossetti knew how to promote an image. This is very much an idealised portrait of the artist as a young woman; note the open book on the desk in front of her, and the contemplative pose. Note also Gabriel’s monogram in the upper right hand corner. This is a man who is proud of his sister and the Rossetti family name. You can read more about this portrait, and examine it more closely, at the Rossetti Archive.

In anticipation of her 181st birthday on 5 Dec 2011, all posts leading up to this very important day will be on the subject of Christina Rossetti. 

Tune in to Radio 4 on Thursday 1 Dec 2011 at 9am (repeat at 9.30pm)


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Pre-Raphaelites in the City

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This blog explores the thriving Victorian cities which inspired the Pre-Raphaelites, and were shaped by them in turn. While the Pre-Raphaelites produced poetry and art praising the natural world, most were born and raised in urban environments, and their work retained a cosmopolitan sensibility. Although this blog will sometimes take excursions into the countryside, its focus will remain on city life. If you want more information on images or sources, please get in touch.