Palaces of Pleasure: From Music Halls to the Seaside to Football, How the Victorians Invented Mass Entertainment

Palaces of Pleasure: From Music Halls to the Seaside to Football, How the Victorians Invented Mass Entertainment

by Lee Jackson


$27.70 $30.00 Save 8% Current price is $27.7, Original price is $30. You Save 8%.
View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Wednesday, August 28


An energetic and exhilarating account of the Victorian entertainment industry, its extraordinary success and enduring impact

The Victorians invented mass entertainment. As the nineteenth century’s growing industrialized class acquired the funds and the free time to pursue leisure activities, their every whim was satisfied by entrepreneurs building new venues for popular amusement. Contrary to their reputation as dour, buttoned-up prudes, the Victorians reveled in these newly created ‘palaces of pleasure’.
In this vivid, captivating book, Lee Jackson charts the rise of well-known institutions such as gin palaces, music halls, seaside resorts and football clubs, as well as the more peculiar attractions of the pleasure garden and international exposition, ranging from parachuting monkeys and human zoos to theme park thrill rides. He explores how vibrant mass entertainment came to dominate leisure time and how the attempts of religious groups and secular improvers to curb ‘immorality’ in the pub, variety theater and dance hall faltered in the face of commercial success.
The Victorians’ unbounded love of leisure created a nationally significant and influential economic force: the modern entertainment industry.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300224634
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 06/25/2019
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 445,502
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Lee Jackson is a well-known Victorianist and creator of the preeminent website on Victorian London ( He is the author of Dirty Old London: The Victorian Fight Against Filth and Walking Dickens’ London. He lives in London.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations vii

Acknowledgements ix

A Note on Money xi

Introduction: or, Expensive and Dangerous Amusements 1

I The Gin Palace: Or, The Abodes of Suicide 6

II The Free-and-Easy: Or, The Glorious Apollo 32

III The Music Hall: Or, He Slept on the Piano 56

IV The Dancing-Room: Or, The Way of the Whirled 95

V The Pleasure Garden: Or, The Midnight Roysterers 121

VI The Exhibition Ground: Or, The City of Side-Shows 147

VII The Seaside: Or, A Triumphal Car for Neptune 184

VIII The Football Field: Or, To Brutalise the Game 219

Conclusion: Or, The Murderer of Thought 246

Endnotes 260

Bibliography 287

Index 297

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Palaces of Pleasure: From Music Halls to the Seaside to Football, How the Victorians Invented Mass Entertainment 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous 4 months ago
This book perfectly explores the history of various ways of mass entertainment, something that was relatively new for the Victorian era, but quickly grew into a booming business. From gin palaces through pleasure gardens and the football field, every little bit of Victorian spare time has been examined and described in great detail. That makes this book an excellent guide for any writers that are looking for a guide to Victorians and how they spend their free time. I hadn't expected it to go so in depth, but it really did an excellent job.
TatteredSpinner 5 months ago
To be filed under: History you never knew you didn't know. This is my favorite kind of non-fiction: juicy, covering obscure details of every day life for working and lower class people and written with perfectly balanced authorial voice, not too chatty and not too dry. I was utterly fascinated by the ins and outs of obtaining and navigating the world of public house licenses in the 1800s. Who knew it was so involved? And the story of the struggle between businessmen of various stripes and their frenemies among the magistrates and social reform crew was utterly gripping. The detail and depth of the analysis kept making me think about what a good resource this would be not only for history buffs looking for an engrossing read, but for writers of historical fiction and, less obviously, fantasy set in pre/mid-industrial revolution settings. So satisfying.
AMGiacomasso 5 months ago
This is a very well written, informative and entertaining book. It's well researched, well written and I liked the clarity of the explanations. I learned a lot and I'm happy I read it. Highly recommended! Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine