A delightful and fascinating social history of Victorians at leisure, told through the letters, diaries, journals and vels of nineteenth-century men and women, from the author of the bestselling 'The Victorian House'. Imagine a world where only one in five people owns a book, where just one in ten has a knife or a fork - a world where five people out of every six do t own a cup to hold a hot drink. That was what England was like in the early eighteenth century. Yet by the close of the nineteenth century, the Industrial Revolution had brought with it t just factories, railways, mines and machines but also fashion, travel, leisure and pleasure. Leisure became an industry - a cornucopia of excitement for the masses - and it was spread by newspapers, advertising, promotions and publicity - all of which were eighteenth-century creations. It was Josiah Wedgwood and his colleagues who invented money-back guarantees, free delivery and celebrity endorsements. New techlogy such as the railways brought audiences to ever-more-elaborate extravaganzas, whether it was theatrical spectaculars with breathtaking pyrotechnics and hundreds of extras - 'hippodramas' recreating the battle of Waterloo - or the Great Exhibition itself, proudly displaying 'the products of all quarters of the globe' under twenty-two acres of the sparkling 'Crystal Palace'. In 'Consuming Passions', the bestselling author of 'The Victorian House' explores this dramatic revolution in science, techlogy and industry - and how a world of thrilling sensation, lavish spectacle and unimaginable theatricality was born.
Judith Flanders is the author of critically acclaimed 'A Circle of Sisters' (2001) - a biography of Alice Kipling, Georgiana Burne-Jones, Agnes Poynder and Louisa Baldwin - which was nominated for the Guardian First Book Award, and the bestselling 'The Victorian House - Domestic Life from Childbirth to Deathbed' (2003). She is a frequent contributor to the 'Daily Telegraph', the 'Guardian', the 'Evening Standard', and the 'Times Literary Supplement'. She lives in London.