Sue Young Histories

Dante Gabriel Rossetti 1838 - 1882

June 13, 2008

Dante Gabriel Rossetti 1838 - 1882 was an English poet, illustrator, painter and translator. He was the brother of poet Christina Rossetti, the critic William Michael Rossetti, and author Maria Francesca Rossetti, and was a founder of the Pre Raphaelite Brotherhood with John Everett Millais and William Holman Hunt.

Dante and his brother William were close friends of the Epps family (William Michael Rossetti, Roger W. Peattie (Ed.), Selected Letters of William Michael Rossetti, (Penn State Press, 1 Nov 2010). Multiple pages).

In 1850, Rossetti met Elizabeth
SiddalElizabeth Siddal (Lizzie), who became an important model for the Pre Raphaelite painters. They were married in 1860.

’… With difficulty they at last succeeded in persuading the obstinate girl [Lizzie Siddal]* to visit Dr. Garth Wilkinson [James John Garth Wilkinson], … It was, in fact, Anna Mary* [Howitt - the daughter of William and Mary Howitt]* and her friends Bessie Parkes _[Bessie Raynor Parkes]* and Barbara Leigh Smith [Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon] who had pushed the lovers into active pursuit of remedies…’ _(Oswald Doughty, A Victorian romantic: Dante Gabriel Rossetti, (Oxford University Press, 1960). Page 143).

Rossetti knew many of the intelligentsia of his age, including Ford Madox Brown, Lewis Carroll, John Ruskin, William Morris (his business partner), Edward Burne Jones, John Everett Millais, William Holman Hunt, Coutts Lindsay 2nd Baronet Trotter of Westville, Algernon Charles Swinburne and many others. He was also was a member of  The Savage Club Masonic Lodge alongside Wilkie Collins, Edward VIIFrancis Wyatt Truscott, Mark Twain,

John Ruskin was very interested in spiritualism, and he knew Elizabeth (Eliza) Hetty Hall Wagstaff, the homeopathic and clairvoyant wife of allopath Philip Wynter Wagstaff of Leighton Buzzard. Rossetti was a close friend of homeopath James John Garth Wilkinson, who introduced him to Elizabeth (Eliza) Hetty Hall Wagstaff (Thomas Moore, Wilfred S Dowden (Ed.), The Journal of Thomas Moore: 1831-1835, (Associated University Presse, 1 Oct 1987). Page 115) as did Lady Georgiana Tollemache Mount Temple** (Van Akin Burd, Christmas Story: John Ruskin’s Venetian Letters of 1876-1877, (University of Delaware Press, 1990). Multiple pages) an English noblewoman, who** **was a friend of **John Ruskin (through their joint interest in spiritualism), and the wife of William Francis Cowper Temple, 1st Baron Mount Temple.

Giuseppe Mazzini introduced homeopath John Epps and his wife Ellen Elliott Epps to the Rossetti’s.

Toward the end of his life, Rossetti sank into a morbid state, darkened by his drug addiction to chloral and increasing mental instability, possibly worsened by his reaction to savage critical attacks on his disinterred (1869) poetry from the manuscript poems he had buried with his wife. He spent his last years as a withdrawn recluse.

On Easter Sunday, 1882, he died at the country house of a friend, where he had gone in yet another vain attempt to recover his health, which had been destroyed by chloral as his wife’s had been destroyed by laudanum. He is buried at Birchington-on-Sea, Kent, England. His grave is visited regularly by admirers of his life’s work and achievements and this can be seen by fresh flowers placed there regularly.

From the Rossetti Family Archive, we find this correspondence:

On 28 March 1854, the Howitts advised Lizzie (Elizabeth Siddal) to consult James John Garth Wilkinson:

Dr. Wilkinson being an eminent Homeopathic Physician whom the Howitts had recommended Miss Siddal to consult.

On 11 May 1854, William Rossetti writes that Lizzie is receiving homeopathic treatment from James John Garth Wilkinson.

Lizzie seems upon the whole a little better, and James John Garth Wilkinson judges so from the long account of her symptoms which we sent.

On 14 May 1854:

Lizzie went this morning to see a Dr. Hale (another homeopath in Hastings), to whom Dr. James John Garth Wilkinson has recommended her, and who advises her to leave this part of Hastings as being liable to get too hot at this time of year, and to go nearer the sea. He thinks her state requires the very greatest care, and gave her some directions. She seems much the same, in fact, I think, though sometimes rather weaker or stronger.

Again in May 1854:

I wrote yesterday, from her own lips, a most minute account of her state to James John Garth Wilkinson, and expect his reply. I cannot think that there is any need of her going into the Sussex Infirmary as proposed.

In June 1854:

The Howitts had got her to see James John Garth Wilkinson (the distinguished Homœopathist and writer), who pronounced that there was curvature of the spine, and the case was an anxious one, but not at all hopeless.

I have already referred to the medical opinion obtained from Dr. James John Garth Wilkinson. Towards June 1855 another opinion was obtained from Dr. Acland of Oxford, to whom John Ruskin recommended her. The Doctor and others, including a lady of the Pusey family, received her with great attentions. He opined that her lungs were nearly right…

Of interest:

William Michael Rossetti was close friends with homeopath John Epps and his wife Ellen Elliott Epps, and James John Garth Wilkinson, who were all introduced to him by his friend William Bell Scott.

Christina Rossetti also became a friend to the Epps family. Her cousin Teodorico Rossetti was an advocate of homeopathy.