Christina Rossetti's most famous poetry collection, Goblin Market and Other Poems, appeared in 1862, when she was 31. It received widespread critical praise, establishing her as the foremost female poet of the time in England.
The poem Goblin Market is one of Rossetti's best known. Although it is ostensibly about two sisters' misadventures with goblins, critics have interpreted the piece in a variety of ways, seeing it as an allegory about temptation and salvation, a commentary on Victorian gender roles and female agency, and a work about erotic desire and social redemption. Rossetti was a volunteer worker from 1859 to 1870 at the St. Mary Magdalene House of Charity in Highgate, a refuge for former prostitutes, and it is suggested that Goblin Market may have been inspired by the "fallen women" she came to know.
Some works lend themselves to being illustrated better than others, and Christina Rossetti's Goblin Market has proven irresistible to artists since its first publication. Her brother, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, contributed several illustrations for the poem’s first issue. Following those, the woodcut illustrations of Laurence Houseman, and finally the illustrations of Arthur Rackham, which have become nearly as famous as the poem itself; wildly suggestive, they transform what many perceived to be a children’s story into a tale with very adult concerns.
Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti…we begin….