Modern freemasonry was invented in London about 1717, but was only one of a surge of British associations in the early modern era which had originated before the English Revolution. By 1800, thousands of clubs and societies had swept the country. Recruiting widely from the urban affluent classes, mainly amongst men, they traditionally involved heavy drinking, feasting, singing, and gambling. They ranged from political, religious, and scientific societies, artistic and literary clubs, to sporting societies, bee-keeping and bird-fancying clubs, and a myriad of other associations. Providing the first account of the rise of this most powerful and distinctive British social institution up to 1800, Peter Clark maps its penetration of the English-speaking world as it came to be exported to the Empire and across to North America. The wider economic, social, and political forces are discussed to show how they contributed to the development and growth of these clubs and societies, leading them to assume quasi-governmental functions, thereby playing a crucial role which affected relations between state, locality, and the citizen.
A final chapter questions current views about voluntarism and the making of civil society, bringing the debate up to the present day.
Unlike governments and great estates, bird-fancying clubs and oratorical societies do not often tend to leave meticulously kept and carefully housed sets of records. The author has perforce had to fall back on the scraps and fragments provided in diaries, collections of letters and old newspaper columns. These scattered sources he has scoured with impeccable industry and care. His findings, too, have been beautifully arranged and lucidly written down. This volume will surely for long remain the authoritative treatment of the subject - in every way a worthy successor to Clark's now classic study of the English alehouse. Angus McInnes, University of Keele. British Clubs and Societies bears the stamp of authority: it covers a constellation of clubs, and provides a persuasive account of their development ... a characteristically fact-packed but thoughtful study. Roy Porter, London Review of Books
Series: Oxford Studies in Social History
Number Of Pages: 534
Published: 1st January 2002
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 21.5 x 13.8
Weight (kg): 0.44