Dante Gabriel Rossetti
D. G. Rossetti was a prominent poet, painter and
translator. Born on May 12, 1828 into a highly creative family, he was
the brother of poet Christina Rossetti and the critic William Michael
Rossetti. He also co-founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, which
aimed to recover the richness and purity of medieval art.
D. G. Rossetti was a precocious writer; at 20 years old, his poem The
Blessed Damozel (1847) won critical acclaim. His early works clearly
show the influence of Medieval art, from his numerous translations of
Dante and other Medieval Italian poets and his use of realistic
images. Unfortunately, a personal tragedy radically influenced his
literary style. His wife, Elizabeth Siddal, overdosed on laudanum
after their child was stillborn. This led to a a recurring theme of
romantic love, and a more metaphorical and sensual style—as if he were
searching for the wife he lost in his creations.
In 1871, Rossetti published his first poetry collection, characterized
by an eroticism that sent shockwaves in conservative literary circles.
He defended his work by explaining his sonnets were a “moment’s
monument”, capturing everyday acts such as a couple falling asleep
after sex and provoking the reader to reflect upon their meaning.
D. G. Rossetti struggled with depression for most of his life,
including drug addiction in his later years. He died at Birchington-on-Sea,