Readers do not always take into account how books that combine image and text make their meanings. But for the Pre-Raphaelite poet Christina Rossetti, such considerations were central.
Christina Rossetti and Illustration maps the production and reception of Rossetti’s illustrated poetry, devotional prose, and work for children, both in the author’s lifetime and in posthumous twentieth-century reprints.
Lorraine Janzen Kooistra’s reading of Rossetti’s illustrated works reveals for the first time the visual-verbal aesthetic that was fundamental to Rossetti’s poetics. Her exhaustive archival research brings to light new information on how Rossetti’s commitment to illustration and attitudes to copyright and control influenced her transactions with publishers and the books they produced. Janzen Kooistra also tracks the poet’s reception in the twentieth century through a complex web of illustrated books produced for a wide range of audiences.
Analyzing an impressive array of empirical data, Janzen Kooistra shows how Rossetti’s packaging for commodity consumption—by religious presses, publishers of academic editions and children’s picture books, and makers of erotica and collectibles—influenced the reception of her work and her place in literary history.