Frances Mary Lavinia Polidori Rossetti's 80th Birthday

Drawing in coloured chalk of Frances and Christina Rossetti in three-quarter profile.

On April 27 1880 Frances Rossetti turned eighty. In honour of her birthday, Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830-1894) and Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882) gave her a copy of David Main's Treasury of English Sonnets (1880). They personalized their gift by contributing a hand-written sonnet each. DGR designed his illuminated “A Sonnet is a moment’s monument” to fit the dimensions of the book and memorialized the moment of the gift in the lower left corner of the manuscript: "DG Rossetti pro Matre facit Apr: 27: 1880" (DG Rossetti made this for his Mother April 27 1880). While DGR’s sonnet was laid in to the front of the Treasury of English Sonnets, CGR placed her hand-written offering, “Sonnets are full of love, and this my tome…” at the back of the book. In this format, the Rossetti siblings' pair of sonnets effectively became the "Alpha and Omega" of this national collection, commenting on the long tradition of sonnets circulating in manuscript and print for private/public expressions of love, ambition, rivalry, and loss.

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