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Short poem

Selected Poetry of Elizabeth Siddall (1829-1862)

from Representative Poetry On-line
Prepared by members of the Department of English at the University of Toronto
from 1912 to the present and published by the University of Toronto Press from 1912 to 1967.
RPO Edited by Ian Lancashire
A UTEL (University of Toronto English Library) Edition
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries
© 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto

Index to poems

If the merest dream of love were true
Then, sweet, we should be in heaven,
And this is only earth, my dear,
Where true love is not given.
        (Dead Love, 15-18)
  1. Dead Love
  2. The Lust of the Eyes
  3. Worn Out
  4. A Year and a Day

Notes on Life and Works

Elizabeth Siddal(l) was born on July 25, 1829, in Holborn, London, the child of Charles Crooke Siddall and Elizabeth Elenor Evans Siddall. She had a very ordinary upbringing, distinguished only by her personal beauty, but it was enough. She caught the eye of a pre-Raphaelite painter, Walter Howell Deverell, as she worked in a bonnet store in Cranbourne Alley, London. In time, she modelled for Deverell, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Everett Millais, and William Holman Hunt, then became Rossetti's mistress, and by 1852 began painting for herself and won the financial support of John Ruskin. Illness then struck, leading her to stop painting, and her engagement with Rossetti fell away in 1858. She sought him out again several years later, however, and they were wed on May 23, 1860, at St. Clement's Church, Hastings, and honeymooned in Paris and Boulogne. Their daughter was stillborn on May 2, 1861, and Elizabeth committed suicide by opium overdose on February 11, 1862. Rossetti placed a manuscript of poems in her coffin. Elizabeth's brother-in-law William Michael Rossetti had printed all fifteen of her poems piecemeal by 1906. They were largely ignored until Roger C. Lewis and Mark Samuels Lasner collected her works and published them in 1978.

Biographical information

Given name: Elizabeth
Family name: Siddall
Birth date: 25 July 1829
Death date: 11 February 1862
Nationality: English
Family relations
          father: Charles Crooke Siddall
          mother: Elizabeth Elenor Evans Siddall
          husband: Dante Gabriel Rossetti (poet) (from 23 May 1860)
Literary movement: Pre-Raphaelite
Literary period: Victorian
Occupation: Store clerk
Residence: Holborn, London, England: 1829
Illness: Opium addiction
Cause of death: Suicide
First RPO edition: 2001