History of Attitudes and Behaviours Toward Animals in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Britain: Anthropocentrism and the Emergence of Animals

Author: Boddice, Rob

Adele Mellen Prize for Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship
This book argues that as the movement to protect animals from cruelty gathered pace, it never lost its essentially anthropocentric outlook. The study comprehensively documents the changing place of animals in human life.


In a recent article, Rod Preece states that, at least in respect to animal rights, almost all the standard narrative, constantly recycled in both scholarly and popular publications, is mistaken. . . . What is needed, in other words, is an almost complete rewriting of the history of animal rights. Such is the agenda that Rob Boddice has taken up in this book.” – Dr. Boria Sax

“The first serious analysis of the place of animals in British thought since Keith Thomas’s, Man and the Natural World . . . [this] book offers an incisive and subtle history of the changing and endlessly complex place of animals in Victorian society. It is based on extensive original research: Boddice has explored some little-known archives as well as scrutinized some more familiar sources with a fresh set of questions. . . . combines an excellent balance of interesting detail and insightful analysis and will surely make an important contribution to scholarship.” – Prof. Emma Griffin, University of East Anglia

“. . . Dr. Boddice shows that what is often termed animal rights has been more concerned with hindering human demoralization than with animals as ends in themselves. This work deserves to be very widely read. If so, I have no doubt that Boddice's work will become required reading for all those interested in the historical reality, rather than the currently popular myths, of the human-animal relationship.” – Prof. Rod Preece, Wilfrid Laurier University

Table of Contents

Foreword by Boria Sax
1. Introduction: Human-animal relations and the discipline of history
2. Neoclassicism and animals in the eighteenth century
3. Cruelty to animals and the ‘great chain of being’
4. The Bentham Myth and early legislative attempts
5. Reform and enforcement in the nineteenth century
6. Masculinity and animals in nineteenth-century sporting culture
7. The human as animal? Anthropocentrism in nineteenth-century culture and science
8. Emerging animals