Playing Games in Nineteenth-Century Britain and America

Edited by Ann R. Hawkins, Erin N. Bistline, Catherine S. Blackwell, and Maura Ives

Subjects: Nineteenth-century Studies, Literary Criticism, Cultural Studies, History, Sports And Society
Series: SUNY series, Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century
Hardcover : 9781438485553, 399 pages, November 2021
Paperback : 9781438485546, 399 pages, July 2022

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations

Introduction: From Snapdragon to Three‑card Loo: Rediscovering Nineteenth‑Century Games
Ann R. Hawkins, Miles A. Kimball, Erin N. Bistline, Allison Whitney, and Catherine S. Blackwell

Section I: Games in Motion

1. Bodies in Play: Boxing, Dance, and the Science of Recreation
Kristin Flieger Samuelian and Mark Schoenfield

2. Baseball in the Frame of Gilded-Age America
Matthew Von Vogt

3. "We are only horses and don't know": Sport and Danger in Fox Hunting
Erin N. Bistline

Section II: Communal Games

4. "The Memory Game": Play, Trauma, and Great Expectations
Sean Grass

5. Seeing Victorian Culture through Croquet's "Treacherous Wire Portal"
Catherine S. Blackwell

6. Acting Charades in 1873: Girls and the Stakes of the Game
Heather Fitzsimmons Frey

Section III: Playing the World

7. Dangerous Games: The Advent of Wargaming in the Nineteenth Century
Andrew Byers

8. The United States as Wonderland: British Literature, U.S. Nationalism, and Nineteenth‑Century Children's and Family Board and Card Games
Michelle Beissel Heath

9. Gaming the Great Exhibition of 1851: Children's Board Games, Display, and Imperial Power
Megan A. Norcia

10. Teetotum Lives: Mediating Globalization in the Nineteenth‑Century Board Game
Siobhan Carroll

Section IV: Books, Boards, and Other Objects

11. What Did They Play, and What Does This Say?: A Quantitative and Cultural Analysis of British Collected Games in the Nineteenth Century through the Games Research Database
Maurice Suckling

12. Professor Hoffmann's Victorian Puzzles and Stage Magic
Andrew Rhoda

13. "An Endless Round of Delights": Materializing the Toy Theatre
Jennie MacDonald

14. The Game of Authors, 1861–1900: A Case History
Maura Ives

General Index
Games Index

Illuminates the ways games—from baseball cards to board games, charades to boxing, and croquet to strategies of war—were integral to nineteenth-century life and culture in the United States and Britain.


A vital part of daily life in the nineteenth century, games and play were so familiar and so ubiquitous that their presence over time became almost invisible. Technological advances during the century allowed for easier manufacturing and distribution of board games and books about games, and the changing economic conditions created a larger market for them as well as more time in which to play them. These changing conditions not only made games more profitable, but they also increased the influence of games on many facets of culture. Playing Games in Nineteenth-Century Britain and America focuses on the material and visual culture of both American and British games, examining how cultures of play intersect with evolving gender norms, economic structures, scientific discourses, social movements, and nationalist sentiments.

Ann R. Hawkins is Assistant Provost for Graduate Education and Research in the Office of the Provost at the State University of New York System Administration. She is the editor of Teaching Bibliography, Textual Criticism, and Book History and the nine-volume scholarly edition Romantic Women Writers Reviewed, and coeditor (with Maura Ives) of Women Writers and the Artifacts of Celebrity in the Long Nineteenth Century. Erin N. Bistline is Lecturer in the Department of English at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. Catherine S. Blackwell is an independent scholar who specializes in long-nineteenth-century literature and culture. Maura Ives is Professor and Head of the Department of English at Texas A&M University. She is the author of Christina Rossetti: A Descriptive Bibliography and editor of George Meredith's Essay On Comedy and Other New Quarterly Magazine Publications: A Critical Edition.


"In their carefully edited and meticulously researched essay collection devoted to nineteenth-century games (and, by extension, to transatlantic 'cultures of play'), Ann R. Hawkins, Erin N. Bistline, Catherine S. Blackwell, and Maura Ives lead a remarkably cohesive 18-person team of game historians, literary and media scholars, and even a professional game designer into the 'unfamiliar wonderland,' as they term it, of nineteenth-century game-play." — ALH Online Review