Introduction
in Women art workers and the Arts and Crafts movement

The introduction argues that it is critical to consider the network of women working at the heart of the Arts and Crafts and to trace the movement into the early twentieth century. Such an approach unveils the centrality of women art workers in formulating a new vision of the movement which focused less on an idealistic rhetoric of dismantling class hierarchies and more on a pragmatic cultivation of the public obsession with obtaining Arts and Crafts objects for the home. Subsequently, the introduction argues that women art workers provide critical new insights into the porous nature of skilled work cultures across this era, as they constructed working lives by moving between fields so often considered in isolation: artistic, intellectual, professional, entrepreneurial, and domestic. Their lives illuminate how many professional women rejected prevalent Victorian ideas about the innate creative differences between women and men, and instead positioned themselves as equally capable of participating in artistic culture. The introduction concludes with a justification of the structure of the book – organised around the buildings and spaces women art workers repeatedly argued were central to the construction of their new working lives – and details the range of sources that are to be used.

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