Victorian Leisure: Sports

Before the Victorian period, leisure time (and the means to pursue recreation) was largely something only the upper classes could afford. By the mid-nineteenth century, however, the middle class was able to pursue recreation — and as a group, they wanted their leisure activities to be moral, respectable, and productive. The Victorian middle class was interested in sports, especially since they helped develop discipline, teamwork, and physical strength. They established sporting clubs, parks, and other institutions which promoted recreation and athletics. Below are a sample of sporting books from the Victorian Collection from the second half of the nineteenth century, promoting both traditional sports like hunting and new activities like bicycling!


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