London Zoo and the Victorians, 1828-1859

London Zoo and the Victorians, 1828-1859

Takashi Ito

Personal eBook

Royal Historical Society



London Zoo examined in its nineteenth-century context, looking at its effect on cultural and social life,
At the dawn of the Victorian era, London Zoo became one of the metropolis's premier attractions. The crowds drawn to its bear pit included urban promenaders, gentlemen menagerists, Indian shipbuilders and Persian princes - Charles Darwin himself. This book shows that the impact of the zoo's extensive collection of animals can only be understood in the context of a wide range of contemporary approaches to nature, and that it was not merely as a manifestation of British imperial culture.
The author demonstrates how the early history of the zoo illuminates three important aspects of the history of nineteenth-century Britain: the politics of culture and leisure in a new public domain which included museums and art galleries; the professionalisation and popularisation of science in a consumer society; and the meanings of the animal world for a growing urban population. Weaving these threads altogether, he presents a flexible frame of analysis to explain how the zoo was established, how it pursued its policies of animal collection, and how it responded to changing social conditions.

Dr Takashi Ito is Lecturer in Modern British History, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies.


8 colour, 21 black and white illustrations
216 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Royal Historical Society Studies in History New Series
Hardback, 9780861933211, February 2014
Personal eBook, 9781782042822, February 2014
Library eBook
Royal Historical Society
BISAC HIS037070, HIS015000, NAT039000
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Table of Contents

Introduction: the zoo in history
The site of animal spectacle
Collecting and displaying
The question of access
Between science and commerce
Illusionary empire
Conclusion: the Darwinian moment


A well-researched book offering a thoughtful and well-documented account of the Zoo's first three decades of existence (which) will be of interest to historians of science and historians of popular culture. HISTORY

A fine example of scholarship in animal history. (The author) brings welcome historical sophistication to discussions of "popular" and "professional" science in nineteenth-century Britain. ISIS: JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE

Ito's London Zoo presents a rewarding . . . account of the early years of the Gardens. JOURNAL OF INTERDISCIPLINARY HISTORY

A fascinating study (that) will not fail to be of interest to historians of science and cultural historians. MIRANDA

A valuable contribution to scholarship, especially concerning captive spaces, Victorian science and the presence of the imperial. It sets the agenda for future studies. This book should be required reading for scholars and students. REVIEWS IN HISTORY

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