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Alford, Lady Marian

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Lady Marian Alford (1817–1888) edited The Handbook of Embroidery (1881) and wrote a history, Needlework as Art (1886), both works in association with her patronage of the Royal School of Needlework. Additionally, as an accomplished amateur artist, she contributed illustrations to two books and spent 15 years decorating with her own work the studio-house she designed. Her home exemplified the principles of taste that she expounded in her treatise: “variety without redundancy; grace without affectation; simplicity without poverty; and choice of the appropriate to ensure a harmonious and serene composition” (Alford, 31). Her precepts echoed those of art and social theorists Pugin, Ruskin, and Morris in that form came before function, medieval methods were superior to industrialized production, and art needed democratizing.

At home, known as an intelligent and dignified conversationalist, her guests were members of social, political, intellectual and creative elites. She made...


  • Aristocracy
  • Patronage
  • Needlework
  • Embroidery
  • Illustrator
  • Art
  • Handbook

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  • Alford, Lady Marian. Berkhamstead Frith, or Common, and Ashridge in the nineteenth century. For private circulation only. 8 August 1878.

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  • ———. 1886. Needlework as art. London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, & Rivington. Accessed 4 Feb 2020.

  • Boyle, Mary Louisa. 1864. Woodland gossip: being a free and easy translation from the German. Illustrated by Frederick Leighton, Lady Marion Alford, the Hon. Mrs. Richard Boyle and the Rev. Spencer Cautley. London: Thomas McLean.

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  • Cautley, Rev. George Spencer. 1878. A century of emblems. Illustrated by Lady Marian Alford, Rear-Admiral W. Compton, Venerable Lord A. Compton, R. Barnes, J. D. Cooper, and the Author. London: Macmillan & Co.

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  • Higgin, L. (Ed. Lady Marian Alford). 1880. Handbook of embroidery. London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, and Rivington. Accessed 4 February 2020.

  • Lambert, Miss Frances S. 1842. The handbook of needlework. New York: Wiley & Putnam.

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  • ———. 1844. Church needlework: With practical remarks on its arrangement and preparation. London: J. Murray.

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  • Needlework as Art. Grantham Journal, 21 August 1886, p. 4.

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  • Stone, Elizabeth. 1841. The right honourable countess of Wilton. In The art of needlework from the earliest ages; including some notices of the ancient historical tapestries, 3rd ed. London: Henry Colburn.

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Correspondence to Catherine Layton .

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Layton, C. (2020). Alford, Lady Marian. In: The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Victorian Women's Writing. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

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  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-030-02721-6

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-030-02721-6

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