This manuscript is one of Christina Rossetti’s poetry notebooks: small, bound and lined booklets used to transcribe, in neat and carefully pencilled or inked handwriting, fair copies of her poetry after initial drafting. This is the fifth notebook in the British Library's collections, containing poems dating from 24 April 1863 to 26 August 1864.
These include 'Maiden Song' and 'Margery', a sympathetic and frank exploration of a woman's heartbreak. The poem reveals the way in which society held vastly different attitudes to men and women in the context of relationships and sexuality; the neighbours squarely blame Margery for her sorrow, declaring 'Girls should not make themselves so cheap'. The poem's speaker claims to agree with these opinions - yet they also question and subvert them. The speaker chastises the behaviour of the man who has broken Margery's heart by imagining 'were I that man', concluding 'I should my very self abhor'.