Note 9, Chapter 1 of the author's Christina Rossetti in Context which the University of North Carolina Press published in 1988. It appears in the Victorian web with the kind permission of the author, who of course retains copyright.
McGann quite correctly describes this as the "most treacherous of all 'schools' of Rossetti criticism" and cites Lona Mosk Packer's "speculative psychobiography," Christina Rosesetti, as a work that "carries this kind of criticism to its self-destructive limits" (NER, 238). However, this "tradition" is pervasive and difficult to escape in Rossetti criticism. As William Fredeman observes, "biographical has long outstripped critical interest in Christina Rossetti" ("The Pre-Raphaelites," 291). The most influential precursors of Packer include William Michael Rossetti (see his "Memoir" in Works); Rossettis official biographer, Mackenzie Bell (Christina Rossetti); and Maurice Bowra (Romantic Imagination, 245-70). Even two of Rossetti's most recent critics use her poetry to interpret her life (see Owen, "Christina Rossetti," and Fass, "Christina Rossetti and St. Agnes' Eve"). In a recent major anthology of Victorian poetry, Donald Gray, an otherwise impeccable editor, begins his discussion of Rossetti's poetry by insisting that her works "are often personal in the sense that they express her feelings about herself and her connections with others, with the possibilities of fife outside her narrow bound, and with God" (Victorian Literature: Poetry, 543).
Last modified 24 June 2007