Horse Racing and British Society in the Long Eighteenth Century
Title Details

326 Pages

23.4 x 15.6 cm

11 b/w illus.

Imprint: Boydell Press

Horse Racing and British Society in the Long Eighteenth Century

by Mike Huggins

  • Description
  • Contents
  • Reviews
Horse racing was the first and longest-lasting of Britain's national sports.

Horse racing was the first and longest-lasting of Britain's national sports. This book explores the cultural world of racing and its relationship with British society in the long eighteenth century. It examines how and why race meetings changed from a marginal and informal interest for some of the elite to become the most significant leisure event of the summer season. Going beyond sports history, the book firmly places racing in its cultural, social, political and economic context. Racing's development was linked to the growth of commercialized leisure in the eighteenth century, a product of rising wealth amongst the middling group; changes in transport; the expansion of the newspaper press; and the new democratic and individualistic spirit of the age, especially the more flexible social codes of the late Georgian and Regency eras.

In this book, horse racing emerges as the first 'proto-modern'sport, with links with the widespread popularity of gaming and betting which forced ever-increasing codification, regulation and event organization. Racing also gave expression to highly nuanced concepts of local, regional, national, class, gender (primarily male) and political identities. Drawing on the fields of social, cultural and sports history and utilizing many hitherto ignored or under-exploited sources, the book revises current histories of eighteenth-century leisure and sport, showing how horse racing links to debates about commercialization, consumer behaviour, the 'urban renaissance' and human-horse relationships. It also sheds new light not only on racehorse ownership,but also on the hitherto hidden world of racing's key professionals: jockeys, trainers, bloodstock breeders, stud grooms and stable hands.

MIKE HUGGINS is Emeritus Professor of Cultural History at the University of Cumbria.
Introduction: Setting the Scene
The 'race week' in British Social Life
The Secret World of Wagering
Horse Racing and British Politics
Racing and its Rules
Running the Race Meeting
The Racehorse, its Ownership and Breeding
Vital Professionals: Jockeys, Grooms and Trainers
Conclusion
Bibliography
"Lays fascinating, thought-provoking and enjoyably readable groundwork for further research on the history of horse racing and pre-modern sport history at large." LUDICA
"Readers seeking insight into the history of British horce racing will find a 'sure thing' when they open the newest historical treatise on racing from Mike Huggins. . . . Huggins's latest book successfully combines developments affecting the sport over a period of more than one hundred years, while still providing meticulous details of both famous and forgotten racecourses, gentrified owners, clever trainers, brave jockeys, and legendary horses." JOURNAL OF SPORT HISTORY
"No scholar could be better placed to write the book about how thoroughbred racing began, both as an institution and as a culture. . . . Written in clear, polished language, blessedly free of jargon, and displaying great breadth and depth of research, Horse Racing and British Society delivers." H-NET
"Mike Huggins is a well-established authority on aspects of British popular culture, and sporting history in particular . . . [This book] offers a great deal of food for thought in terms of further research into his subject." HISTOIRE SOCIALE/SOCIAL HISTORY
"An authoritative tome full of information and insight into racing's rich history." RACING POST

Hardcover

9781783273188

June 2018

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$95.00 / £65.00

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Ebook (EPDF)

9781787442818

June 2018

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Title Details

326 Pages

2.34 x 1.56 cm

11 b/w illus.

Imprint: Boydell Press