Maria Francesca Rossetti was born in London, England, to Gabriele Rossetti, an Italian-born poet and scholar, and his wife Frances Mary Lavinia Polidori. She was the older sister of Dante Gabriel, William Michael, and Christina Rossetti. Her maternal uncle was the physician and writer John Polidori. She and her siblings began writing or creating art at a young age; by age 5, she could read in both English and Italian. At 14, she published an English translation of In morte di Guendalina Talbot by Giampietro Campana. She worked as a governess and private tutor and some of her early writings were designed for her students of Italian, including Exercises in Idiomatic Italian and Aneddoti italiani (1867). Her brother Dante Gabriel Rossetti often asked for her advice on linguistic and stylistic matters, and she participated in the cultural life of the Pre-Raphaellite Brotherhood. Her major work was the acclaimed biography-literary criticism, A Shadow of Dante (1871). In 1874, Maria Francesca joined the Society of All Saints, an Anglican religious order, as a nun. She published a translation from Latin of The Day Hours and Other Offices as Used by the Sisters of All Saints (1875) , which was used by her order until 1922. She died in 1876, probably of ovarian cancer, at age 48.