Title: The Lunar Men
Author: Jenny Uglow
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Spartacus Website: James Watt
Led by Erasmus Darwin (grandfather of Charles Darwin), the Lunar Society of Birmingham were a group of eighteenth-century amateur experimenters who met monthly on the Monday night nearest to the full moon. Echoing to the thud of pistons and the wheeze of snorting engines, Jenny Uglow's vivid and swarming group portrait brings to life the inventors, artisans and tycoons who shaped and fired the modern world. The group included James Watt; Josiah Wedgewood; Joseph Priestley and Matthew Boulton.
Author: Seth Koven
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Spartacus Website: Poverty
In the 1880s, fashionable Londoners left their elegant homes and clubs in Mayfair and Belgravia and crowded into omnibuses bound for midnight tours of the slums of East London. A new word burst into popular usage to describe these descents into the precincts of poverty to see how the poor lived: slumming. In this captivating book, Seth Koven paints a vivid portrait of the practitioners of slumming and their world: who they were, why they went, what they claimed to have found, how it changed them, and how slumming, in turn, powerfully shaped both Victorian and twentieth-century understandings of poverty and social welfare, gender relations, and sexuality. The slums of late-Victorian London became synonymous with all that was wrong with industrial capitalist society. But for philanthropic men and women eager to free themselves from the starched conventions of bourgeois respectability and domesticity, slums were also places of personal liberation and experimentation. Slumming allowed them to act on their irresistible "attraction of repulsion" for the poor and permitted them, with society's approval, to get dirty and express their own "dirty" desires for intimacy with slum dwellers and, sometimes, with one another. "Slumming" elucidates the histories of a wide range of preoccupations about poverty and urban life, altruism and sexuality that remain central in Anglo-American culture, including the ethics of undercover investigative reporting, the connections between cross-class sympathy and same-sex desire, and the intermingling of the wish to rescue the poor with the impulse to eroticize and sexually exploit them. By revealing the extent to which politics and erotics, social and sexual categories overflowed their boundaries and transformed one another, Koven recaptures the ethical dilemmas that men and women confronted - and continue to confront - in trying to "love thy neighbor as thyself."
Title: Marital Violence
Author: Elizabeth Foyster
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Spartacus Website: Emancipation of Women
This book exposes the 'hidden' history of marital violence and explores its place in English family life between the Restoration and the mid-nineteenth century. In a time before divorce was easily available and when husbands were popularly believed to have the right to beat their wives, Elizabeth Foyster examines the variety of ways in which men, women and children responded to marital violence. For contemporaries this was an issue that raised central questions about family life: the extent of men's authority over other family members, the limitations of women's property rights, and the problems of access to divorce and child custody. Opinion about the legitimacy of marital violence continued to be divided but by the nineteenth century ideas about what was intolerable or cruel violence had changed significantly. This accessible study will be invaluable reading for anyone interested in gender studies, feminism, social history and family history.
Title: The Victorians and Sport
Author: Mike Huggins
Spartacus Website: Early History of Football
Many of the sports that have spread across the world, from athletics and boxing to golf and tennis, had their origins in nineteenth-century Britain. They were exported around the world by the British Empire, and Britain's influence in the world led to many of its sports being adopted in other countries. The Victorians and Sport is a highly readable account of the role sport played in both Victorian Britain and its empire. Major sports attracted mass followings and were widely reported in the press. Great sporting celebrities, such as the cricketer Dr W.G. Grace, were the best-known people in the country, and sporting rivalries provoked strong loyalties and passionate emotions. Mike Huggins provides fascinating details of individual sports and sportsmen. He also shows how sport was an important part of society and of many people's lives.