Amusing the Victorians

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We remember the Victorians as relentless, nose-to-the-grindstone workers: at one end of the scale they were making great scientific discoveries, at the other were child chimney sweeps and the workhouse. But how did the people of the Industrial Revolution amuse themselves in their spare time? What weird and wonderful activities were invented solely for the pursuit of pleasure? The years between 1837 and 1901 saw the greatest upsurge in leisure pursuits hitherto witnessed in Britain. Parks, libraries, art galleries and museums were created. Pamela Horn explores the various activities enjoyed by the Victorians, including sport, the music hall, fashion, fairs, drink and travel. The Victorians had a wonderful capacity for humour, turning the woes of rent day and domestic disputes into sources of laughter at the theatre. During this period the concept of spare time itself became much valued. If you have ever wondered how that most serious society had fun and idled away those precious non-working hours, this is the book for you.


Dr Pamela Horn lectured in economic and social history at Oxford Polytechnic, (now Oxford Brookes University), for over twenty years. She had written a number of books on social history topics covering the nineteenth- and early twentieth-century life. That includes several books on child life and schooling during the Victorian and Edwardian eras. Pamela sadly passed away in 2014.