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Leisure & Public Amusements

Key Texts

P Bailey, ‘A Mingling mass of perfectly legitimate pleasures: the Victorian middle class and the pursuit of the leisure’, Victorian Studies, 1977

P Bailey, ‘Conspiracies of meaning: music hall and the knowingness of popular culture’, Past and Present, 1994

H Cunningham, Leisure in the Industrial Revolution 1780-1880, esp chs 1 and 5

Mike Huggins, 'More sinful pleasures? Leisure, respectability and the male middle classes in Victorian England', Journal of Social History, 2000

David Peters Corbett, ‘Seeing into modernity: Walter Sickert’s Music Hall Scenes’, Modernism/Modernity, 2000

Douglas Reid, ‘Playing and Praying’ in M Daunton (ed.), The Cambridge Urban History of Britain

J K Walton, The English seaside resort: a social history, 1750-1914

Seminar Questions
  • Was there an attempt to introduce ‘safe, respectable or improving alternative activities’?
  • Does working-class leisure and recreation express a class identity and culture under attack from the repressive and manipulative forces of middle class authority?
  • Investigate the ‘commercialisation’ of leisure.
  • Was there a sexual division of leisure pursuits?
  • What was the balance between large-scale, organised and informal, family based recreations - ie public versus private?
  • How does elite leisure activity differ from working class pursuits?
Suggested Films

Tipping the Velvet (TV drama: 2002); Champagne Charlie (1944)

Further Reading

P. Bailey, Leisure and class in Victorian England: rational recreation and the quest for control

P Bailey, ‘Theatres of entertainment/spaces of modernity: rethinking the British Popular Stage 1890-1914’, Nineteenth Century Theatre, 1998

A Davis, Leisure, gender and poverty: working class culture in Salford and Manchester, 1900-1939

D F Cheshire, Music Hall in Britain

Sue Farrant 'London by the sea: resort development on the south coast of England, 1880-1939', Journal of Contemporary History, 1987

Dagmar Kift, The Victorian Music Hall: Culture, Class and Conflict

J Lowerson and J Myescough, Time to spare in Victorian England

H Meller, Leisure and the Changing City

R Malcomson, Popular recreation in English Society, 1700-1850

Scott Phillips, ‘Rational entertainment, music hall and the 19th century periodical press’, Theatre History Studies, 2002

Simon Phillips, ‘Fellowship in recreation, fellowship in ideas: sport, leisure and culture at Boots, 1883-1945’, Midland History, 2004

Douglas Reid, 'Weddings, weekdays, work and leisure in urban England', Past & Present, 1996

F M L Thompson, Cambridge Social History of Britain, 1750-1950, vol 2, ch. 6

J Walvin, Leisure and Society 1850-1950

J Walvin and J D Walton (eds), Leisure in Britain, 1780-1939

E Yeo and S Yeo, Popular culture and class conflict, 1500-1914: an exploration in the history of labour and leisure, esp. chs 5 and 6

W J Baker, ‘The making of a working class football culture in Victorian England’, Journal of Social History, 1979

D Birley, Land of sport and glory: sport and British society 1887-1910

P Brailsford, British sport: a social history

H Cunningham, Leisure in the industrial revolution, 1780-1880, ch. 4

E Dunning and K Sheard, Barbarians, gentlemen and players: a sociological study of the development of rugby football

R Holt, Sport and the British: a modern history

K E McCrone, Sport and the physical emancipation of English women

J A Mangan, The cultural bond: sport, empire and society

A Mason, Association football and English society, 1863-1915

K A P Sandiford, Cricket and the Victorians