British Aestheticism and the Urban Working Classes, 1870-1900: Beauty for the People explores the ways in which middle-class people sought to bring gifts of beauty to the slums London. Diana Maltz throws fresh light on British Aestheticism as a social movement, on bourgeois myths and insights into tenement life, and on late-Victorian cultural philanthropy in practice. Maltz offers a stimulating reinterpretation of the social reformers Octavia Hill, Samuel Barnett, and Henrietta Barnett, and her chapters examine fictional treatments of 'missionary aestheticism' by Walter Pater, Mrs. Humphry Ward, George Gissing, and Arthur Morrison as well as visual satires by cartoonists Charles Keene and George Du Maurier. Until now, most scholars have tended to view aestheticism as an elitist movement dedicated to promoting the doctrine of art for art's sake among the upper echelons of fashionable English society. Yet, as Maltz demonstrates in this accessible book, dandies in the fin de siecle also knew and frequently supported lobbies for enhancing the lives of the poor. By revealing how aestheticism was closely associated with the world of social reform, this book presents a wholly new way of looking at a vital cultural movement.

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