One of the most multifaceted epochs in the Swedish history of ideas, the Romantic era is also a period when women begin to take an active part in cultural life. The philosophy of Romanticism with its emphasis on the creative individual provides a strong intellectual basis for a strategy applied by women and here called the art of beautifying everyday life. The aim of this study is to explore this theme through the eyes of a once famous but now forgotten woman and author.

This theme of beautifying everyday life unites important strands in nineteenth century bourgeois life with seemingly unimportant matters in diaries, letters, memoirs, and biographies. A larger pattern emerges, where the structure shows women’s ability to recreate and use the aesthetic and philosophical ideas of their time in order to enrich life and endow everyday existence with a deeper meaning. This is an important contribution to the question of how women employed their creativity and their intellect, in a period when the scope for public work was small. The effort to beautify everyday life provides a strategy, which is at the same time constructive and unsatisfactory. It includes both serious and playful attempts to abolish the given demarcation between the private and the public domain, between imagination and reality, between art and life.

In the salons, women play key roles, and an increasing number of the writers and readers of the period are women. As an ideal type of the Romantic life-style, the poetic woman is as central as the male genius.