This collection of essays introduces new scholarship on the women novelists, poets, fiction writers, essayists, lifestyle experts, and critics who played a central and long-forgotten role in the history of aestheticism, the late nineteenth-century movement associated with "art for art's sake." Recovering the work of these women recasts aestheticism as a powerful and widespread cultural movement rather than the product of a few elite men. Aesthetic women were not just mystical models in jewel-toned draperies or passive consumers of blue china; they were remarkably sophisticated writers, such as Marie Corelli, Christina Rossetti, Virginia Woolf, and Gertrude Jekyll, engaged in challenging their own objectification and formulating new theories of art. These essays show how aestheticism offered both men and women a set of concepts and a vocabulary through which issues of gender, sexuality, ethnicity, exoticism, nature, the modern, economic productivity, commodity culture, mass culture, and high culture could be addressed.

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