Industrialising Print, Sport, and Authorship

Nimrod, Surtees, and the New Sporting Magazine

in Critical Survey
Author: Yuri Cowan 1
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  • 1 Ghent University Yuri.Cowan@UGent.be
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In the early Victorian period, sporting literature found a new audience among the young century's industrialists and prosperous merchants who, enabled by the growth of the railroads and increased access to the countryside, chose to use their increased leisure time to experience English rural life and to hobnob on equal terms, at least superficially, with the rural ancien régime. The New Sporting Magazine, established in 1831, positioned itself to speak both to the existing devotees of sport and to the middle-class audience which was about to make its presence felt in the field. The parallel refinement of English sport and its print discourse is described by and exemplified in the two best-known sport writers of the early Victorian era: Robert Smith Surtees and Charles Apperley ('Nimrod'). Surtees and Nimrod, though highly professional and well remunerated, habitually put forward their own work as 'correspondence', contributing to the illusion that the magazine was a playground for gentlemen of leisure. The careful blend of the conservative and modern in the New Sporting Magazine thus extends to its contributors as well: in this magazine's pages the eighteenth-century culture of the gentleman correspondent was beginning to merge with the culture of the paid celebrity author that would become such a force in the mass literary environment of the nineteenth century.

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