Croquet and Its Influences on Victorian Society: The First Game that Men and Women Could Play Together Socially

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The work argues that the ascendency of croquet as a popular sport in England during the middle to late nineteenth century was a direct result of class. He traces the history of the sport and finds that it was one of if not the first sport that men and women could enjoy together. The game initially had an elite social status attached to it: it was first seen as a game suitable for the British gentry, especially for those families whose estates had extensive lawns, or for families wealthy enough to join croquet clubs. It attracted many people because it had a certain ‘snob’ appeal and formed as an upper class leisure time activity, and developed with the middle class due to their rising number at that time.


“Scheuerle’s work is original in both concept and execution. There does not appear to be any other extended scholarly study of the rise and fall of croquet in mid-Victorian Britain, and there are certainly no other studies that so satisfactorily and completely associate the sport with social issues of class and gender and connect it with Victorian art and literature. His work should appeal to devotees of the history of sport, to students and scholars of Victorian social history, and to readers of Victorian literature. Without diminishing its scholarly attributes, the book exudes a sense of charm and nostalgia which simply makes it a good read.”
Prof. Gary Simons,
University of South Florida

“Scheuerle seeks to explore and elucidate how and to what extent the game of croquet became a significant factor in shaping major social changes in Victorian society in the intermingling of men and women in organized and regulated games or sports, in changes in fashions, especially in the dress of women, in the mixing of the growing middle class with the gentry, and introducing a new subject for art and offering a fresh look at outdoor entertainment. This is an example of a mature scholarly work.”
Prof. Roger W. Cole,
University of South Florida

“This study of croquet advances the trend toward richly social histories, for it is most concerned with – and successful at – illuminating how this game shaped and was shaped by the values, norms and expectations of the Victorian middle. It traces the history of croquet from its putative origins in France through its various incarnations in Britain, discovering that the game was prominent in England during the 1850’s, 60’s and 70’s. He posits that this prominence arose from class and contributed to Victorian expectations about upward mobility and gender dynamics.”
Prof. Regina Hewitt,
University of South Florida

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction
The Middle Class
The rules of the game
The instruments of the game
The croquet lawn
Chapter II: The Origin of Croquet
Croquet in France and Ireland
Introduction into England
Early books on croquet
Chapter III: The Growth of the Game’s Popularity
Subject for major art
Croquet and Punch and other magazines
Croquet and sheet music
Croquet and good health
The invention of the lawnmower
The growth of croquet clubs
Chapter IV: Women and Croquet
Horseback riding
Croquet and fashion
Croquet and flirtation
Chapter V: The Declining Popularity of Croquet
Lawn tennis

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