In 1893 Alice Meynell launched her career as a belletristic essayist and relaunched her career as a poet. The objects that initially represented this new phase of Meynell’s professional life were two books: The Rhythm of Life and Other Essays (1893) and Poems (1893). Published by Elkin Mathews and John Lane at the Bodley Head, printed on fine-quality, hand-woven paper, and limited to editions of 550, these books announced Meynell’s bid for high literary status and her affiliation with fin-de-siècle aestheticism. With their beautiful covers of “aesthetic and almost ascetic simplicity,” Meynell’s books promised essays and poems of exquisite taste and literary distinction (“Notes on New Books” 108).1 This, indeed, was the judgment that contemporary critics passed on them. Writing in the Fortnightly Review in December 1892, just before their official appearance in January 1893, Coventry Patmore praised Meynell’s essays for their “classical” achievement, for embodying “new thought of general and permanent significance in perfect language, and bearing, in every sentence, the hall-mark of genius” (763). Patmore even recanted his earlier statement that “no female writer in our time had attained to true ‘distinction,’” later nominating Meynell for poet laureate to replace Alfred, Lord Tennyson (762-3).2