He was a poet, translator, illustrator and painter
born Gabriel Charles Dante Rossetti in London, England to a family who had
emigrated from Italy. His father
was an Italian scholar, his brother William was a critic, his sister Maria
was an author and co-founder of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and his
sister Christina was a poet who had written the popular Christmas carol
“In the Bleak Midwinter”.
He studied at King’s College School followed by
Henry Sass’s Drawing Academy and in 1845 he entered the Antique
School of the Royal Academy. He
left the Academy in 1848 and took studies with the painter Ford Madox Brown
who became a lifelong friend. After
developing the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood philosophies he began to publish
Italian medieval translations and also works of Dante as well as painting
using an early style. He also
transcribed the carol “Baloo Lammy” in the 1850s.
He married the painter Elizabeth Siddal in 1860. He received the support from the art
critic John Ruskin but owing to other poor reviews from others he decided
to cease exhibiting his painting and started to concentrate on working
privately using watercolours.
Continuing to work on his poetry translations he
published a set of them in his book The Early Italian Poets in
1861. He also worked as a
designer with his friend William Morris where he provided stained glass
His wife committed suicide after their child was
stillborn and his own subsequent depression caused him to bury the majority
of his poems with her. He did
however, later exhume them and paint images of his wife in several
He became obsessed with wombats for some reason and
often met his friends at London Zoo’s Wombat Lair. He also owned two of the animals as
He published a controversial book of poetry entitled Poems
by D.G. Rossetti in 1870 where the series entitled The House of Life
portrayed the development and feelings of an intimate relationship. He published a further volume in
1881, Ballads and Sonnets, which completed this series.
He slipped in a further state of depression and became
a recluse. He went to stay at a
friend’s country house in failing health, worsened by his addiction
to drugs and alcohol, and passed away there in 1882 on Easter Sunday.