ABSTRACT

If Rhoda Broughton’s Not Wisely But Too Well emphasizes the visibility of her heroine

and uses the 1851 Great Exhibition as a significant locus for modern femininity,

Dickens’s Bleak House and Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s Lady Audley’s Secret play

even more on visual motifs, using, in particular, books of beauties to fashion their

plots. In the second half of the nineteenth century, society ‘beauties’ embodied a new

kind of femininity and their portraits were circulated, appearing in shop windows, on

cartes de visite, and even as advertisements selling products.1 Aligning the beauties’

bodies with purchasable works of art, books of beauties turned women into so many

images seducing viewers.