Pleasures and Pastimes in Victorian Britain
- Pamela Horn
15th June 2011
It was a paradox of nineteenth-century Britain that while work was the bedrock upon which the Victorian vision of progress was constructed, the years between 1837 and 1901 also saw the greatest upsurge in leisure pursuits hitherto witnessed. Pamela Horn sets the various activities enjoyed by the Victorians in the context of growing leisure time, the transformation of occupational structures, and the increasing concentration of people in urban society. She reveals how a more structured approach to leisure came about with the creation of parks, libraries, art galleries and museums. Greater literacy widened horizons, while technological change also had its effect in making available cheap books, newspapers and musical instruments. Among the aspects of leisure discussed are family amusements, sport, fashion, drink, fairs, travel, the music hall, literature, and activities that emphasised the patriotic spirit. Pleasures & Pastimes also explores regional differences and the divergence between urban and rural areas. Richly illustrated with photographs and contemporary cartoons, this is a fascinating and engaging account of Victorian life. A stimulating read for historians and students, the book will also appeal to those with a general interest in Victorian society.