Victorians at Play: Gentlemen, Players and Spectators

Ref: C2346990

Sport was one of the most popular of Victorian leisure activities, both for those who took part, and those who paid in increasing numbers to watch them. This lecture will consider a range of team and individual sports, including rugby and association football, athletics, cycling and boxing, to explore such aspects as the 'gentlemen v players' divide between amateurs and professionals; the influence of social class in other respects; sports considered 'suitable for ladies'; and the growing codification and regulation of team sports in particular. As we will also see, sport played an important role in addressing concerns about 'the fitness of the race' in the later 19th century, including 'muscular Christianity' as a means of improving the moral fibre as well as the physical health of the younger generation. To conclude, we will take a brief look at the sports 'market' in a different respect: that of the manufacturers of specialist sports equipment, clothing and footwear.

Course aim

To explore the role of sports in Victorian Britain, including those considered 'suitable for ladies' - and its benefits for those who played, those who watched, and those who were concerned about the moral and physical fitness of young Victorians.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Explain why some sports were considered ‘unsuitable for ladies’.

How will I be taught?

What kind of feedback can I expect?

What else do I need to know?

Your lecture will be delivered in a ‘traditional’ talk-to-camera style, but there will be opportunities to ask questions and engage in discussion at the end. Slide-show images will be used to illustrate key points, and a short summary of the lecture will be posted to Canvas soon after the event.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

What can I do next?

View full course information sheet

Victorians at Play: Gentlemen, Players and Spectators


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