Maura Ives. Christina Rossetti: A Descriptive Bibliography

By Arseneau, Mary | Papers of the Bibliographical Society of Canada, Spring 2012 | Go to article overview

Maura Ives. Christina Rossetti: A Descriptive Bibliography


Arseneau, Mary, Papers of the Bibliographical Society of Canada


Maura Ives. Christina Rossetti: A Descriptive Bibliography. New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Press, 2011. 380 pp.; US $95.00 ISBN 9781584562917

Maura Ives's Christina Rossetti: A Descriptive Bibliography is a most impressive achievement that meets a significant need in Rossetti studies. A major Victorian poet who also wrote fiction and nonfiction prose for adult, child, and specifically devotional audiences, Christina Rossetti (1830-94) merits the careful documentation that Ives so successfully and admirably provides. As Lorraine Janzen Kooistra observes in Christina Rassetti and Illustration: A Publishing History (Ohio University Press, 2002), Rossetti is remarkable in Victorian publishing history particularly for the exceptional wholeness of her earliest publications' book design. Working with her artist brother Dante Gabriel Rossetti who provided the illustrations and bindings for Goblin Market and Other Poems (1865) and The Prince's Progress and Other Paems (1866), Christina Rossetti published with Macmillan and Company illustrated first editions that exemplified a Pre-Raphaelite aesthetic that integrates verbal and visual elements. Ives's descriptive bibliography of Rossetti's writings documents the full range of their nineteenth-century publishing history, and in so doing it promises to be an invaluable resource for scholars, librarians, cataloguers, booksellers, and collectors.

This bibliography is a beautifully produced and substantial volume, with a page height of 27.9 cm and covered with a lovely dust jacket that emulates Dante Gabriel Rossetti's binding design for The Prince's Progress and Other Paems. Ives provides the most exhaustive list to date of Rossetti's books, her appearances in anthologies, periodicals, and hymnals, musical settings of her poems, selected translations, ephemera, and other Rossettiana. In terms of both quantity of entries and level of description Ives surpasses by far the previous bibliographical sources ranging from the early list compiled by J.P. Anderson for Mackenzie Bell's 1898 biography of Rossetti to the twentieth-century bibliographies by Lona Mosk Packer, William E. Fredeman, Norman Colbeck, and Mary Louise Jarden Maser and Frederick E. Maser.

Ives's bibliography is comprehensive up to 1900, and thereafter includes only selected separate works wholly or primarily by Rossetti. Not included are most of the various twentieth-century collections of Rossetti's poetry that followed William Michael Rossetti's editions. In acknowledging the necessary limits to the scope of her bibliography, Ives also helpfully indicates fruitful areas for future work: in post-1900 collections of Rossetti's poems and in the publishing history after 1900 of Rossetti's most famous poem, "Goblin Market." Ives also remarks that more remains to be learned about Rossetti's relations with her primary religious publisher, the SPCK, and notes that Rossetti's collaboration in translation work with her cousin Teodorico Pietrocola Rossetti is an area that remains underexplored. Throughout the bibliography, Ives demonstrates her thorough knowledge of Rossetti scholarship as she highlights her original contribution and positions her work within an ongoing scholarly conversation by drawing attention to areas of research that other scholars might profitably pursue in the future.

Ives has chosen to focus on nineteenth-century published materials, a reasonable limit that keeps the scope of the bibliography manageable while still capturing all the publications during Rossetti's own lifetime. Ives documents every pre-1900 publication of Christina Rossetti's writing, including both British and American printings of Rossetti's poetry collections. In a substantial and useful introduction, Ives clearly outlines both Rossetti's nineteenth-century publishing history and her bibliography's principles of organization and entry format--in which Ives follows standard bibliographical practice as described by Fredson Bowers and G.

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