Palaces of Pleasure: From Music Halls to the Seaside to Football, How the Victorians Invented Mass Entertainment

Lee Jackson

Research output: Book/ReportBook


A lively account of the rise of the Victorian entertainment industry and popular recreation in nineteenth-century Britain The Victorians invented mass entertainment. As the nineteenth century's growing industrialized class acquired the funds and the free time to pursue leisure activities, their desires were satiated by determined entrepreneurs building new venues for popular amusement. Contrary to their reputation as dour, buttoned-up prudes, the Victorians reveled in these newly created "palaces of pleasure." In this vivid, captivating book, Lee Jackson charts the rise of well-known institutions such as gin palaces, music halls, seaside resorts and football clubs, as well as the more peculiar thrills of the pleasure-garden and international expo, ranging from parachuting monkeys to human zoos. He explores how vibrant mass entertainment came to dominate leisure time and how the attempts of religious groups and secular improvers to curb "immorality" in the pub, music hall, and dance hall faltered in the face of commercial success. The Victorians' unbounded love of leisure created a nationally significant and influential economic force: the entertainment industry.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherYale University Press
Number of pages320
Publication statusPublished - 23 Apr 2019


  • Victorian, nineteenth century, leisure, entertainment, alcohol, dancing, pleasure gardens, exhibition grounds, Crystal Palace, White City, seaside, football, music hall, public house

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