A full textual transcription of Rossetti’s family letters can be found at The Rossetti Archive. For the purposes of this post, I have only selected letters that mention Elizabeth Siddal in an effort to see how Gabriel communicated with his family in regards to his relationship with her. Taken from Dante Gabriel Rossetti. His Family-Letters with a Memoir (Volume Two)
The first letter is prefaced with a description by William Michael Rosseti:
“The Sid,” first mentioned in this letter, and more frequently afterwards under her name Lizzy, was Elizabeth Eleanor Siddal.
My brother’s things sent “from Highgate” must have been forwarded, I think, from a house rented by Mr. Bateman, a decorative artist, who had emigrated to Australia with Mr. Woolner and others. Mrs. and Miss Howitt (the late Mrs. Howitt-Watts) were then staying in the house, and were on very cordial terms both with my brother and with Miss Siddal. My brother’s proposed trip to Hastings was for the purpose of rejoining Miss Siddal, who stayed there on various occasions for health’s sake.”
[London.4 August 1852.]
My Dear Christina,
Maria has just shown me a letter of yours by which I find that you have been perpetrating portraits of some kind. If you answer this note, will you enclose a specimen, as I should like to see some of your handiwork? You must take care however not to rival the Sid, but keep within respectful limits. Since you went away, I have had sent me, among my things from Highgate, a lock of hair shorn from the beloved head of that dear, and radiant as the tresses of Aurora, a sight of which may perhaps dazzle you on your return. . . .
I am rejoiced to hear of your improved health, and hope it may prove lasting. I was lately in company with Mrs. and Miss Howitt, with whom you are a considerable topic. I believe Mamma forwarded you an intelligent Magazine by Mrs. H[owitt] to which you are at liberty to contribute. That lady was much delighted with your printed performances, and wishes greatly to know you. Her daughter . . . has by her, singularly enough, a drawing which she calls The End of the Pilgrimage , made by her some years back, which furnishes an exact illustration of your Ruined Cross.
On the opposite page is an attempt to record, though faintly, that privileged period of your life during which you have sat at the feet of one for whom the ages have probably been waiting. The cartoon has that vagueness which attends all true poetry. On his countenance is a calm serenity, unchangeable, unmistakable. In yours I think I read awe, mingled however with something of that noble pride which even the companionship of greatness has been known to bestow. Are you here transcribing from his very lips the title-deeds of his immortality, or rather perpetuating by a sister art the aspect of that brow where Poetry has set-up her throne? I know not. The expression of Shakespear’s genial features is also perhaps ambiguous, though doubtless not to him. Westminster Abbey, I see, looms in the distance, though with rather an airy character.
I shall very possibly be going to Hastings in a few days. Meanwhile, till I hear from you or see you again, believe me, dear Christina,
Your affectionate Brother,
D. G. Rossetti.
I forgot to say that Mamma considers 2 s. 6 d. sufficient to give the maid—in which, I may add, I do not coincide. Mamma however says you must judge.
In this letter Gabriel writes to his brother and is appears eager to facilitate a friendship between Lizzie and his sister, poet Christina Rossetti:
14 Chatham Place.
Tuesday [28 March 1854].
My Dear William,
Tell Christina that, if she will come here on Thursday, Lizzy will be here. . . . I shall be glad if she will come, as I have told Lizzy she mentioned her wish to do so.
Allingham has been looking over her poems, and is delighted with many of them. I am going to lend them him (trusting in her permission to do so), that he may give his opinion as to which will be the best for the volume. Lizzy will illustrate, and I have no doubt we shall get a publisher.
In this letter, Gabriel writes of Lizzie to his mother. He discusses Lizzie’s health with ease and familiarity. This was written during their stay in Hastings:
( My address will be) 5 High Street, Hastings.
[ May 1854].
My Dear Mamma,
I found Lizzie apparently rather better than otherwise; at any rate not worse, either by her own account or by appearances. Some of her bad symptoms are certainly abating, and her spirits, she says, are much better. I have been staying at the Inn here; but move to-day to Mrs. Elphick’s, 5 High Street, where Guggum