Note 4, Chapter 4 of the author's Christina Rossetti in Context which the University of North Carolina Press published in 1988. It appears in the Victorian web with the kind permission of the author, who of course retains copyright.

Important in this context is Rossetti's letter to Augusta Webster explaining her refusal to support women's suffrage. She refuses on the grounds of the patriarchal [207/208] doctrines, values, and hierarchy of Christian orthodoxy, but with a very significant caveat:

On the other hand if female rights are sure to be overborne for lack of female voting influence, then I confess I feel disposed to shoot ahead of my instructresses, and to assert that female M.P's are only right and reasonable. Also I take exceptions at the exclusion of married women from the suffrage, — for who so apt as Mothers — all previous arguments allowed for the moment — to protect the interests of themselves and of their offspring? I do think if anything ever does sweep away the barrier of sex, and make the female not a giantess or a heroine but at once and full grown a hero and giant, it is that mighty maternal love which makes little birds and little beasts as well as little women matches for very big adversaries" [Bell, Christina Rossetti, 112].

Last modified 24 June 2007