Aestheticism and the Marriage Market in Victorian Popular Fiction: The Art of Female Beauty, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Aestheticism and the Marriage Market in Victorian Popular Fiction

The Art of Female Beauty, 1st Edition

By Kirby-Jane Hallum


240 pages

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Hardback: 9781848934818
pub: 2015-04-01

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Based on close readings of five Victorian novels, Hallum presents an original study of the interaction between popular fiction, the marriage market and the aesthetic movement. She uses the texts to trace the development of aestheticism, examining the differences between the authors, including their approach, style and gender. Wider issues concerning Victorian womanhood, marriage and commodity culture are also explored. This book will be of interest to scholars of book history as well as literature and nineteenth-century society.


"This comprehensively researched book surveys the tendency to fetishize and commodify the female body during the aesthetic movement." --Talia Schaffer, Queens College and the Graduate Center, CUNY, Review 19

"Hallum’s first monograph is promising and contains fascinating insights into the evolution of aestheticism and its effects on popular conceptions of female beauty…This is a useful volume for scholars interested in the role of nature and artifice in relation to female beauty and aestheticism." --Laura Chilcoat, University of Florida,The Latchkey

“In Aestheticism and the Marriage Market in Victorian Popular Fiction, Kirby-Jane Hallum situates this familiar narrative in the context of British aestheticism and its images of women as beautiful objects. Drawing on the work of such feminist scholars as Talia Schaffer and Kathy Psomiades, Hallum contributes to the study of gender and aestheticism by examining the influence of the movement, in its various late-Victorian permutations, on literary representations of the economics of marriage.” - Tamar Heller, University of Cincinnati, Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Art of Female Beauty in Context 1. ‘Two Lovers to Decide their Rival Claim to the Possession of My Person’: Rhoda Broughton’s Cometh up as a Flower 2. The ‘Aesthetics of Love’ in George Meredith’s The Egoist 3. ‘A Lovely Woman Whom He Hath Bought’: The Market for Aestheticized Commodities in Ouida’s Moths 4. ‘I Love Beauty – And I Study it wherever I find it, Dead or Living’: Marie Corelli’s Wormwood 5. ‘Love for Love’s Sake’: George du Maurier’s Trilby Conclusion: Beyond Beauty

About the Author

Kirby-Jane Hallum received her PhD in English from the University of Auckland, New Zealand. Her research interests lie in the long 19th century, with particular focus on women's and popular literature, and her recent publications in Literature Compass, Women’s Writing and Victorian Network reflect dual interests in Britain and New Zealand. She is currently embarking on a new project regarding Britain's influence on colonial New Woman writing.

About the Series

Literary Texts and the Popular Marketplace

In the past, the critics and writers who formulated the boundaries of the literary canon in British literature restricted its membership to ‘high culture’ and the ‘highbrow’. Writers whose work lies outside these selectively applied parameters of literary taste and value have been assigned to the derogatory category of ‘middlebrow’ or ‘popular’ literature. Some of these writers were rejected from the canon by their willing embrace of popular appeal, and their openness to a wide readership. Many texts were not included because they were written by women, addressed women’s concerns, or because they were concerned with middle- and working-class values and aspirations that were inimical to the literature of high culture. Other categories that have been disadvantaged by the institutional application of canonicity in British literary culture include regionality, the literature of impairment, political stance, and writers of colour.

This series offers monographs and edited collections of essays that examine the extents and effects of writing that resists the regulation of the canon. Crossing both cultural and geographic boundaries, this series brings together studies of texts, writers, readers, producers, and distributors. It will highlight current debates about the politics of mainstream readerships and media, about the designation of audiences and material methods of circulation, and will address contemporary critical concerns. By attending to how these texts resist the ‘high’ cultural imperative the works in this series make it possible to learn how culture is commodified for particular classes, and the role that gender and social class play in the production of those categories.

Manuscripts should be in the range of 80,000 to 100,000 words. Proposals should be eight to ten pages in length and should include a brief overview of the relevant scholarship in the field, the contribution which your work will make, a breakdown of the contents by chapter, an account of the number and type of illustrations, a brief survey of competing works, to whom the proposed book could be marketed, and the intended audience. Proposals should include a minimum of two sample chapters.

Please send all queries and proposals to the series editors, Kate Macdonald ( and Ann Rea (, for preliminary review.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LITERARY CRITICISM / European / English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh