Christina was the sister of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and like him she showed promise as a poet while still very young. She was educated at home and encouraged to write by her family; her teenage poems were printed by her
grandfather on his own press.
She was a devout Anglican, and refused two suitors on religious grounds: the painter James Collinson because he became a Roman Catholic; and Charles Bagot Cayley, because he was an atheist. Perhaps as a result of this self-denial, a recurrent theme in her poetry is the rejection of earthly passion in favour of spiritual devotion. Even those poems with a strong element of fantasy in them, such as 'Goblin Market' or 'The Prince's Progress' are often written with a clear moral purpose in mind.
Rossetti's health was always poor, and illness had rendered her an invalid by the time she was fifty. She continued to write however, producing Time Flies: A Reading Diary (1885), which contained poems and thoughts for each day, and The Face of the Deep: A Devotional Commentary on the Apocalypse (1892). After her death her brother W.M. Rossetti brought out an edition of her later poetry, New Poems, in 1896, and edited her Collected Poems (1904).
Christina Rossetti is widely regarded as the greatest female poet in English up to her own time. She was considered for the position of Poet Laureate, before her final illness made the appointment impossible.