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Description: This three-page letter to Rossetti’s “dear Namesake” reads in part: “I quite understand what you mean about not choosing subjects, but their coming to one: yet if “Sappho” came to me I should send her about her business, as (tho’ I hope unjustly) her traditional story is I believe worse than you supposed. I do also think Sappho an unsafe type.” Sappho, an ancient poet who is well-known for writing overtly homoerotic poetry, would definitely be considered an “unsafe” subject for the buttoned-up Victorian era.

Nevertheless, despite the perceived danger of the “Tenth Muse”, Rossetti did ultimately accept her as a subject, writing a poem with the poet’s name as the title. “Sappho” is a melancholy work about a lonely woman watching the days pass by as she is doomed to weather an unloved existence. Though almost nothing is known of Sappho’s life, one legend claims that she was rejected by the ferryman Phaon and leapt to her death from the Leucadian cliffs. Most modern scholars reject this tale, but perhaps it was the inspiration for Rossetti’s poem.

Christina Rossetti (1830-1894) was an English poet known for her devotional and children’s poems, such as “Goblin Market”. She was a sister of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood artist, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and is featured in several of his works.

Written on a plain piece of stationery folded to: 7″ x 4 3/8″. Item #A01627

Condition: ┬áPin hole through middle of paper (not touching any text), mounting remnant on blank verso has bled through to third page, 1″ tear repaired with archival tissue/tape (not touching any text). Generally good condition with a large bold signature.