Dante Gabriel Rossetti, poet and painter, was the brother of Christina Rossetti, the nephew of John Polidori, and a member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.

Distraught at the premature death of his wife Elizabeth Siddal, who died of an overdose of laudanum, Rossetti buried his poetry manuscripts with her, and repeatedly tried to contact her in séances. The Beata Beatrix portraits were done in her memory. One night, seven years after Lizzie was buried, Rossetti had the body secretly disinterred to recover the poems. The remarkable preservation of Lizzie's body and her golden hair, seemingly longer than ever, are said to have influenced Bram Stoker's story, The Secret of the Growing Gold, as well as the description of Lucy Westenra in Dracula. Perhaps unnerved by the experience, although he was not at the grave side, Rossetti refused to be buried near Lizzie.

After Lizzie's death, Rossetti and his brother William shared a house with George Meredith and Algernon Swinburne whose poem A Death on Easter Day, was written about him:
...
The soul most radiant in all the world
Requickened to regenerate resurrection
Out of the likeness of the shadow of death.

Curiously, Swinburne died on the same day (April 10), though several years later.

Jane Morris, the wife of his friend William Morris, frequently modelled for Rossetti, and he was having an affair with her at the time of his wife's death. Morris was sympathetic, and for a time they lived together at Kelmscott Manor.

Rossetti's best known poem, The Blessed Damozel, is said to have been inspired by Poe's, The Raven.

This passage from The Orchard Pit seems to recall Shelley's hallucinations (which might have been familiar to Rossetti from his uncle's journals):

This in my dreams is shown me; and her hair
Crosses my lips and draws my burning breath;
Her song spreads golden wings upon the air,
Life's eyes are gleaming from her forehead fair,
And from her breasts the ravishing eyes of Death

 

 

Gothic Labyrinth
Gothic Labyrinth