Dinah Roe: Books: Christina Rossetti’s Faithful Imagination

Dinah Roe

Christina Rossetti’s Faithful Imagination : The Devotional Poetry and Prose

Christina Rossetti’s Faithful Imagination challenges the persistent myth that faith dulled the edge of Christina Rossetti’s creativity, arguing instead that religion sharpened her wits. It reveals how Rossetti’s literary legacy has suffered from a misunderstanding of the nature, history and sincerity of the poet’s Christianity. Despite advances made by feminist critics in the rediscovery of Rossetti, the myth of the poet’s ‘overscrupulous’ Christianity persists. The thoughtful, dynamic and religious artist who lived and produced well into her sixties is in danger of being overlooked.

Rossetti assimilated various influences, from Tractarian writing to the poetry of Keats and Dante, to sustain her on a lifelong and exhilarating march ‘Up-Hill’. In both prose and poetry, she invites the reader to engage with a sophisticated network of biblical allusion, in which Christian doctrine is re-thought and sometimes re-forged. Unless we take this invitation seriously, we will not take the true measure of Rossetti.


Throughout, Roe’s engaging account offers us a poet of impressive and subtle intellect who was both self-assured and humble in her faith.

The Year’s Work in English Studies

The strengths of Roe’s analyses lie in … her ability to uncover worlds of complexity beneath Rossetti’s simple surfaces, and her own disciplined imagination when she frames Rossetti’s imaginative turns within their Victorian historical and religious contexts … Christina Rossetti’s Faithful Imagination deserves careful study by all serious Rossetti scholars.

Victorian Studies

Roe's book rediscovers neglected works, making a case for their relevance to a modern audience...It is a beautifully written, thoughtful and accessible work which will appeal to fans of poetry, women's writing, and the 19th century.

The Hampstead and Highgate Express

...Dinah Roe contributes significantly to the growing interest in Christina Rossetti's theology...Roe also enhances our understanding of Rossetti's devotional prose, a rarely treated aspect of her work that requires more thorough consideration.

Journal of Pre-Raphaelite Studies

Palgrave Macmillan (31 Oct 2006) ISBN: 9780230005075