"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, and his famous Guild of Handcraft, Inc., a commercialized version of the British Arts and Crafts Movement."—Library Journal
"To create this insightful account of her mother's life and relationship to Charles Robert Ashbee, a leading figure in the English Arts and Crafts Movement, Felicity Ashbee has drawn on three principal sources—her mother's unpublished autobiographical novel 'Rachel,' her parents' jointly written Ashbee Memoirs, and her own recollections. . . . Felicity Ashbee writes with great sensitivity of a marital relationship made complex by her father's avowed homosexuality, by her parents' shared commitment to the community they created, and by the strains of war, separation, and changing times. Ashbee has written an honest and moving tribute to her extraordinary mother that rescues her from the shadow of C.R. Ashbee."—Choice
C. R. Ashbee was, some would say, the key man in the British Arts and Crafts movement during the early decades of the twentieth century. Regarded as heir to William Morris in political belief and design reform, Ash bee (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 compelling 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 today: 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.
A book of rare insight and significance, Janet Ashbee sheds welcome light on the Arts and Crafts movement and on women in oft-romanticized Victorian and Edwardian British culture.
Felicity Ashbee is the author of scholarly articles in art history and nineteenth and twentieth-century material culture. She is eighty-eight years old and this is her first full-length book.
Alan Crawford is the author of C. R. Ashbee, Architect, Designer and Romantic Socialist.
6.125 x 9.25, 276 pages, 10 color, 49 black and white illustrations