Social history: the Victorian fun industry

POSTED: July 26, 2019

I found an interesting article in the Guardian a few days ago about how the Victorians invented leisure as a concept.

The article begins with the claim that as “entrepreneurs and impresarios came up with increasingly elaborate ways to make money from the capital’s huge potential audience, Victorians effectively invented the modern leisure industry – including theme parks, pubs and professional football”.

It then gives a series of examples. Fun fact: “Fulham FC, London’s oldest professional football club, still play at their first ground, built by the Victorians in 1896. The oldest parts of the ground are the pavilion and main stand, dating to 1905, and a sign of how popular and financially successful football had become under the Victorians”.

The article offers a precis of a new book: Palaces of Pleasure: From Music Halls to the Seaside to Football, How the Victorians Invented Mass Entertainment, written by Lee Jackson and published by Yale Press.