Christina Rossetti, Speaking Likenesses

Joshua Fagan (University of St Andrews)
Download PDF Add to Bookshelf Report an Error

Few works in the extensive oeuvre of Christina Rossetti are as defiantly strange as

Speaking Likenesses

. It received a puzzled reception upon its release, and critical attitudes toward it have hardly shifted. Rossetti, in a letter to her brother Dante Gabriel in May 1874, describes it as “merely a Christmas trifle” that “would be in the


style with an eye to the market” (

Family Letters


This characteristically self-deprecating note underplays the sheer weirdness of the work. As Rossetti indicates, Speaking Likenesses indeed consciously imitates the style of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, which had already achieved classic status since its release in 1864. Speaking Likenesses does not, however, pay homage to Carroll as much as contest and undermine

1722 words

Citation: Fagan, Joshua. "Speaking Likenesses". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 23 February 2024 [, accessed 05 March 2024.]

16039 Speaking Likenesses 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

Save this article

If you need to create a new bookshelf to save this article in, please make sure that you are logged in, then go to your 'Account' here

Leave Feedback

The Literary Encyclopedia is a living community of scholars. We welcome comments which will help us improve.