Nicholas Freeman

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780748640560
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748651399 | DOI:

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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)


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Oscar Wilde's disastrous libel suit against the Marquess of Queensberry dominated British newspapers during the spring of 1895. This book shows that the Wilde scandal was just one of many events to capture the public's imagination that year. Had Jack the Ripper returned? Did the Prime Minister have a dreadful secret? Were Aubrey Beardsley's drawings corrupting the nation? Were overpaid foreign players ruining English football? Could cricket save a nation from moral ruin? Freak weather, flu, a General Election, industrial unrest, New Women, fraud, accidents, anarchists, balloons and bicycles all stirred up interest and alarm. The book shows how this turbulent year is at the same time far removed from our own day and strangely familiar. It interweaves literature, politics and historical biography with topics such as crime, the weather, sport, visual art and journalism to give an overarching view of everyday life in 1895. The book draws on diverse primary sources, from the Aberdeen Weekly Journal to the Women's Signal Budget, and from the Illustrated Police News to The Yellow Book; and is illustrated with stills from plays and reproductions of newspaper front pages, to bring Victorian culture to life.

Keywords: Oscar Wilde; Marquess of Queensberry; libel suit; Jack the Ripper; Aubrey Beardsley; industrial unrest; New Women; Victorian culture; English football; cricket

Book.  248 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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