Janet Ashbee: Love, Marriage and the Arts and Crafts Movement

Janet Ashbee: Love, Marriage and the Arts and Crafts Movement

by Felicity Ashbee (Author)


C.R. Ashbee was, some would say, the key man in the British Arts and Crafts movement during the early decades of the 20th century. Regarded as heir to William Morris in political belief and design reform, Ashbee (and his Guild of Handicraft) gained international fame in his own time and remains a legend today. While much has been written about him, little has been said of his wife. Now Felicity Ashbee breaks the silence in a book about her mother. The book depicts Janet Ashbee as a gifted woman of emotional warmth, strength and unconventionality, all of which enhanced her husband's work. An accomplished writer and thinker in her own right, Janet Ashbee's life revolved around great historic issues that still resonate to this day: the socially conscious Arts and Crafts movement, the role of women in contemporary affairs, and embattled ethnic relationships in the Middle East - not to mention marriage and sexual orientation, predicated upon her husband's vibrant and well-known homosexuality.


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More Information

Format: Hardcover
Pages: 245
Edition: 1
Publisher: Syracuse University Press
Published: 31 May 2002

ISBN 10: 0815607318
ISBN 13: 9780815607311

Media Reviews
An 88-year-old former teacher of art at various girls' schools, Ashbee here offers an incisive and well-written biography that records the considerable achievements of her emboldened mother, Janet. In her first full-length book, Felicity goes beyond her scholarly articles on art history and material culture, deliberately enhancing her mother's reputation to do her story justice. The result is the only study available on her mother's life, principally because Janet remained in the shadow of her renowned husband, C.R. Ashbee (CRA), and his famous Guild of Handcraft, Inc., a commercialized version of the British Arts and Crafts Movement. Janet was open-minded; in 1898 she married (with reservations) a lifelong homosexual who was nearly 15 years her senior. The joy that came from four children kept the 43-year marriage together, even as Janet, called The Lady of the Guild -accompanied CRA at supper gatherings and conversations with his guildsmen. Janet wrote hundreds of personal and domestic letters, easily worthy of publication, which confirm the liberalism of her early years and conservatism in motherhood. Along with her outstanding autobiography, Rachel, these letters inform Felicity's work. Recommended for biography collections--Library Journal