Faculty Research at Morehead State University


"Their fruits like honey in the throat / But poison in the blood": Christina Rossetti and The Vampyre

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 1997


In "'Twilight is not good for maidens': Uncle Polidori and the Psychodynamics of Vampirism in Goblin Market," David F. Morrill argues convincingly that John Polidori's sensational tale The Vampyre (1819) is a likely source for Christina Rossetti's much-discussed and enigmatic poem Goblin Market. In his analysis, Morrill reminds us that Polidori was Rossetti's maternal uncle, and, although we cannot know conclusively that she read The Vampyre, Morrill maintains that the tale was typical of Christina Rossetti's reading as a young woman. According to Morrill, the goblins are vampiric creatures who "dole out strange, exotic fruits to young women who become drained, languid, bloodless," and ultimately he argues that "the implications of pleasure, pain, sucking, and enervation suggest some sort of vampirism, however muted and altered". Morrill goes on to trace the ways in which Polidori's tale, which established most of the conventions of the modern-day vampire story, could perhaps have influenced Rossetti's best-known poem.