PICTURES FROM A LIBRARY
christina rossetti Photographic portrait of Christina Rossetti by Elliott and Fry, albumen print for carte de visite, c. 1870s, 2⅛" × 3½". Reproduced by courtesy of the University Librarian and Director, The John Rylands Library, The University of Manchester.
‘How public like a frog’: a portrait of Christina Rossetti It is Christina Rossetti who looks out at us from this photograph by Elliott and Fry – a carte de visite recently discovered hidden amongst the pages of a book of her poetry, A Pageant and other poems, in the John Rylands Library, Manchester.
The only Sister of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Rossetti sought obscurity for many years, though she couldn’t help illuminating this with her poetry. In 1875 she inexplicably succumbed to the pressures of celebrity portraiture. So here she sits, in middle age, holding a book which I imagine is a book of verse: ‘Yes,’ she seems to say, ‘I am a poet… all I care for you to know is here. Behold this green volume. It is a copy of my collected works. It costs four shillings and sixpence. Read That.’