Description

Goblin Market and other poems was Christina Rossetti’s first collection of published poems. Reviewers highly praised the collection for Rossetti’s unique voice and poetic talents, although it was not a commercial success. In addition to ‘Goblin Market’, the volume contains ‘Cousin Kate’, ‘A Birthday, ‘After Death’ and ‘My Secret’.

The designs

Rossetti's brother, the Pre-Raphaelite artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti, created two designs to accompany Goblin Market and other poems. ‘Buy from us with a golden curl’ (frontispiece) and ‘Golden head by golden head’ (title page) both illustrate the title poem ‘Goblin Market’, and focus in particular on the relationship between the sisters Laura and Lizzie. 

Completed between November and 16 December 1861, Rossetti’s original drawings were carved into woodcuts for printing by C J Faulkner and W J Linton. Additionally, D G Rossetti guided the design for the book’s binding, elements he believed played a central role in the way the book was approached and read.

Pre-Raphaelite style

D G Rossetti exhibits his distinctive style and treatment in these designs. The figures of Laura and Lizzie, for instance, echo the sensual Pre-Raphaelite woman who, with flowing hair, rounded limbs and displayed necks, dominate Rossetti’s oil paintings. Certainly, these illustrations have influenced those who have argued that the poem contains a sexual subtext.

Simultaneously, the images complement the Pre-Raphaelitism of ‘Goblin Market’ itself, which can be seen in the poem's vivid, densely concentrated visual description of the fruits and the grotesque goblin-creatures who trade them.

Transcript