Women art workers and the Arts and Crafts movement

By Zoë Thomas

Women art workers and the Arts and Crafts movement


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-4043-2
  • Pages: 272
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £80.00
  • Published Date: May 2020
  • BIC Category: ART / History / Modern (late 19th Century to 1945), HISTORY / Social History, Humanities / British & Irish history, Society & social sciences / Gender studies: women, Art & Design Styles: Arts & Crafts Style, Humanities / Social & cultural history, HISTORY / Women, ART / Women Artists
  • Series: Gender in History


This book constitutes the first comprehensive history of the network of women who worked at the heart of the English Arts and Crafts movement from the 1870s to the 1930s. Challenging the long-standing assumption that the Arts and Crafts simply revolved around celebrated male designers like William Morris, it instead offers a new social and cultural account of the movement, which simultaneously reveals the breadth of the imprint of women art workers upon the making of modern society. Thomas provides unprecedented insight into how women navigated authoritative roles as 'art workers' by asserting expertise across a range of interconnected cultures: from the artistic to the professional, intellectual, entrepreneurial and domestic. Through examination of newly discovered institutional archives and private papers, Thomas elucidates the critical importance of the spaces around which women conceptualised alternative creative and professional lifestyles.


'This absorbing study skilfully illuminates the rich cultures of the women of the arts and crafts movement, authoritatively excavating their significance. It is a major contribution to British feminist and cultural history.'
Kathryn Gleadle, Mansfield College, University of Oxford

'Zoë Thomas provides a thoughtful new take on the role and place of women within the English Arts and Crafts movement, offering an alternative narrative encompassing consumer pleasures and feminist concerns that leads to refreshingly unique perspectives.'
Juliette MacDonald, Edinburgh College of Art

'Thomas's important book offers a revisionist, politicised, and staunchly female-centred history of the Arts & Crafts movement, firmly re-establishing women's aesthetic, professional and intellectual contributions through suffrage and the political economies of Victorian England.'
Jenni Sorkin, University of California, Santa Barbara


Introduction: The Arts and Crafts movement, work cultures, and the politics of gender
1 Clubhouses and guild halls
2 Exhibiting the Arts and Crafts
3 'At Home' in artistic houses and studios
4 'Artistic' businesses and 'medieval' workshops
5 Out of the guild hall and into the city

Select bibliography


Zoë Thomas is Lecturer in Nineteenth-Century Britain and the Wider World at the University of Birmingham

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