Vice and the Victorians
By: Mike Huggins
Format: EPUB eBook. Paperback. Hardback
Imprint: Bloomsbury Academic
About Vice and the Victorians
Vice and the Victorians explores the ways the Victorian world gave meanings to the word ‘vice’, and the role this complex notion played in shaping society. Mike Huggins provides a richer and more nuanced understanding of a term that, despite its vital importance to the Victorians, has thus far lacked a clear definition.
Each chapter explores a different facet of vice. Firstly, the book seeks to define exactly what vice meant to the Victorians, exploring how the language of vice was used as a tool to beat down opposition and dissent. It considers the spatial dimension of vice in the public and private spheres, before moving on to look at specific vices: the unholy trinity of drink, sex and gambling. Finally, it shifts from vice to virtue and the efforts of moral reformers, and reassesses the relationship between vice and respectability in Victorian life.
In his lively and engaging discussion, Mike Huggins draws on a range of theory and exploits a wide variety of texts and images from the periodical press, parliamentary reports and Acts, novels, obscene publications, paintings and posters, newspapers, sermons, pamphlets and investigative works. This will be an illuminating text for undergraduates studying Victorian Britain as well as anyone wishing to gain a more nuanced understanding of Victorian society.
‘Huggins has written a lively and well-researched study of vice during the reign of one of our noblest queens. Exploring the darkest corners of the nineteenth-century city, and taking in drunkenness, gambling, pornography and prostitution, Huggins shows that Victorian Values were not always as Margaret Thatcher imagined them to be. Although pressure against being led into temptation came from churches, charities, educators, employers, and the forces of law and order, many Victorians struggled with the devil on one shoulder and the angel on the other. Huggins tells his stories of Victorian vice with great skill.’
Mark Clapson, University of Westminster, UK
‘This engaging, well-researched survey of many forms of Victorian vice – including gambling, prostitution, drunkenness, and pornography – will appeal to the scholar, the student, and the educated lay reader alike. It draws on a wide range of sources, including periodicals, court cases, and canonical novels, to show that the enjoyment of – or at least exposure to – a variety of vices united all classes in Victorian society. This compelling work brings together the libertine, the occasional gambler, the secret consumer of pornography, the streetwalker, the purity crusader, and the street preacher to remind us of the complexities of Victorian culture. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.’
Carol Engelhardt Herringer, Wright State University, USA
‘A lively and valuable work of both colour and substance, providing a richly detailed cultural cartography of Victorian deviance and twilight pleasures. Mike Huggins’ synthesis tops up and illuminates the extensive literature on vice and its challenges with impressive aplomb… A compendious recent treatment.’
‘Peter Bailey, University of Manitoba, Canada
‘a book that is comprehensive and at the same time highly readable, aimed at an undergraduate audience. His early chapters set out the problems facing any efforts to synthesize an account of Victorian vice from a bewildering range of primary and secondary sources. Issues of class are at the forefront, particularly since vices tended to be the problems of somebody else. Vice and the Victorians adeptly weaves together familiar narratives of proletarian dissipation and aristocratic decadence, as well as problems of middle-class disrepute that surfaced less often than their class counterparts at both ends of the social scale.’ Journal of Interdiscipinary History
‘Reinvigorates the topic of Victorian vice… The notable strength of Huggins’s book is in its detailed knowledge of British social history, which drives his analysis of vice…Huggins’s depiction of multifarious, urban Victorian life is as rich and real as a crowd scene painted by William Frith. Victorian Studies
‘a good primer for student and undergraduate researchers studying Victorian culture and history. Huggins relies on primary research and his own analysis rather than only secondary sources in his well-written, well-organized book. An introductory piece on vice and the culture surrounding it leads into the many primary sources the author consults. Vice must be examined in the context of the times, and Huggins does an admirable job of painting a cultural picture. He also examines how different classes viewed vice and how each reacted to another. The book’s sources are a gold mine for scholars of any tier interested in more information about Victorian-era vices’ CHOICE
This is a very accessible book and one which I think should be on the reading list of everyone interested in the period – although the book deals with all the Victorian period so a lot isn’t immediately relevant to the 1880s. A highly enjoyable book, warmly recommended.
Table Of Contents
1. The Problem of Vice
2. The Cultural Geography of Vice
3. The Demon Drink
4. The Betting Evil
5. Sexual Vices
6. Fighting the Good Fight
‘very well written and included within its short span a remarkable amount of factual detail and persuasive analysis.’ Northern History 2004.
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‘Mike Huggins and Jack Williams are well-established historians of sport in interwar England and what they say about sport in this book we would expect to be authoritative. In a comparatively small compass they are able to say a lot.’ (International Journal of the History of Sport, 2007)
‘this book helps fill a major chronological gap . . . Furthermore, for many readers, the book’s attractions will derive from the track record of the joint authors, who combine to form a strong sports history team. The book’s strength lies in the way in which a wide range of evidence is marshaled to illuminate key discussion points, including middle-class lifestyles; the ‘otherness’ of the working classes; the social power of men over women; local and national identities; the nature of sporting celebrity; and the growing role of the media in representing sport’. (Sport in History, 2008).
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‘written with authority, based on an astonishing volume and variety of source material, and with enthusiasm that can easily infect the reader.’ Economic History Review, 2005.
‘provides a wider social context into which to fit the tighter, more restricted nineteenth century sport historiesâ€¦ For those just embarking on an investigation into the contextualisation of sport and society, The Victorians and Sport will make for a great start.’ The Historian 2007.
‘a fluid and erudite survey of the era that offers a growing range of research and knowledge to a broader learned audience’, International Journal of the History of Sport 2005.
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Voted Sports History Book of the Year by the North American Society for Sport History in 2000‘Mike Huggins has become a prolific writer on aspects of British popular culture [and these writings have] carved out a niche for him as a distinctive voice, with a particularly telling concern to reassess the nature and varieties of middle class culture . . . this is a very important (and enjoyable) book.’ (Journal of Social History, 2001).
‘Huggins . . . demonstrates energy, enthusiasm, and historiographical skill in abundance. Equally important is the theoretical insight he brings’. (Albion, 2001).
‘a book which should be read by all scholars interested in the history of sport in the nineteenth century.’ (Sporting Traditions, 2002).
‘builds on established scholarship and points the way towards new areas of research.’ (History, 2002).
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‘his focus upon what he describes as a major British industry . . . offers another dimension to ongoing historiographical controversies about the character of Britain’s interwar experience’. History 2005.‘authoritative and well researched’, Economic History Review 2004.
an ‘engaging and original book’, Northern History 2004.
‘Disreputable Pleasures: Less Virtuous Victorians at Play’
Mike Huggins and J A Mangan (eds.) (Frank Cass, 2004)
‘A welcome exercise in historiographical delinquency, this lively and challenging collection makes an important contribution to the history of leisure and popular culture in Britain.’ (Peter Bailey, author of Popular Culture and Performance in the Victorian City)
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‘Sport and the Upper Classes in Britain, 1450-1950’, Mike Huggins (guest editor) Sport in History (September 2008)
‘The Visual in Sport’ Mike Huggins and Mike O’Mahony (eds), (Routledge, November 2012)
‘A genuinely interdisciplinary work that will form the starting point for much new thinking about sport and the visual‘ (Professor Dave Russell). ‘This terrific volume provides even further proof of the explosion of sports studies in recent years. Sport is unimaginable without the visual and the authors here beautifully and intelligently show us why‘ (Professor Robert Edelman). ‘This is a collection that will change the way that many of us see sport‘ (Professor Mark Dyreson).
‘To date, the only rigorous, comprehensive account of sport and the visual’(Jonathan Finn in his edited collection, Sport and Visual Culture).
The essays offer a good mix of sport and art-historical perspectives, and explore a diverse range of images and visual artefacts from across cultures. In this the collection fulfills the editors’ major aims: to offer an alternative model of studying sport history, to encourage scholarship in this area and extend awareness or new kinds of primary visual sources…the collection offers a stepping stone for subsequent work…a very welcome one. Sport in History
‘Sport, Tourism and History’, Mike Huggins (guest editor) Journal of Tourism History, September 2013
Chapters and Articles
Go to see my published material on British leisure and sport in mainstream historical journals and in specialist publications, and my contributed chapters to a wide range of edited books.