Miching Mallecho—It Means Mischief

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1854 August
Genre: dramatic sketch


◦ M. L. Howe, “A Dramatic Skit by Dante Gabriel Rossetti” , Modern Language Notes 49 (1934) 39-44

◦ Fredeman, Correspondence, 54.57

◦ Hunt, Violet, The Wife of Rossetti, 103-104

Scholarly Commentary


DGR from time to time threw off dramatic skits like this one. They were always “occasional”, in contrast to the more substantial dramatic works he planned to write, like “The Doom of the Sirens” and the (now lost) “The Wife's Tragedy”.

Only three of these skits survive, the other two being “Dinner at Queens Square, 1868” and “The Death of Topsy”.

The skit has evoked three very different commentaries, though each agrees that the work is only interesting for “its several biographical connotations” (Howe 39). Violet Hunt's discussion summarizes the plot but disdains the work, which she calls “one of his mirthless, undramatic little saynètes as [the PRB Brethren] were in the habit of listening to patiently” (104). For Howe, the play shows “certain mannerisms of his Pre-Raphaelite Brethren, his growing estrangement from Millais upon the latter's success. . .and finally a definite statement by Rossetti concerning a circulating folio of sketches which failed to pass beyond his studio” (Howe 39). Millais's idea was to promote the work of the PRB through a sketching society (see the commentary for DGR's drawing of Hamlet and Ophelia). The members were to contribute drawings to a portfolio, but as the letter that includes the play shows, DGR was holding back the drawing that he had promised, Found. The play reflects, as Fredeman says, “DGR's recurring paranoia about plagiarism”, in this case involving Hunt's The Awakening Conscience, the preliminary drawings for which postdated the beginning of DGR's Found drawing.

Textual History: Composition

The skit was composed sometime in August 1854 shortly after a meeting of the Pre-Raphaelite circle at Cayley's lodgings.

Printing History

This dramatic sketch was sent in an 1854 letter to Allingham, and it was first published (in part) in Letters of Dante Gabriel Rossetti to William Allingham, 1854-1870 (1897). The first complete publication came in 1934 in an article by M. L. Howe, and it was then published complete again in the context of the original letter in Doughty and Wahl's edition of DGR's letters and again in Fredeman, Correspondence, 54.57 , where it is usefully annotated.


The title of the skit quotes Shakespeare, Hamlet, III. 2. 136-138 . DGR and his brother were taken with the problem of this strange text's meaning: see DGR's letter to WMR, 2 September 1869, Fredeman, Correspondence, 69. 146 .

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: 9-1854.raw.xml