Pleasures & Pastimes in Victorian England
- Publish Date: 1999-11-14
- Binding: Hardcover
- Author: Pamela Horn
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It was a paradox of 19th-century Britain that while work was the bedrock upon which the Victorian vision of progress and improvement was constructed, the years between 1837 and 1901 also saw the greatest upsurge in leisure pursuits hitherto witnessed. This book deals with the pleasures and pastimes enjoyed by the Victorians, setting the various activities enjoyed into the context of the growth of leisure time and changes in occupational structure, as well as the increasing concentration of people in urban society. It reveals how a more structured approach to leisure came about throughout the period, 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. However, the spread of leisure was uneven, and this book also explores regional differences and growing divergence between urban and rural areas where employment patterns affected by seasonal demand could be radically different. Having examined changing patterns of employment, the increasing regulation of working hours and the establishment of set holidays, the book looks at the different types of relaxations and activities pursued. Among the aspects of leisure discussed are family amusements and domestic pastimes, such as needlework and gardening, and activities that emphasized the patriotic spirit - the setting up of the Boys' Brigade and the volunteer movement.