A Man's Place: Masculinity and the Middle-class Home in Victorian England

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Yale University Press, 1999 - History - 252 pages
4 Reviews
Domesticity is generally treated as an aspect of women's history. In this fascinating study of the nineteenth-century middle class, John Tosh shows how profoundly men's lives were conditioned by the Victorian ideal and how they negotiated its many contradictions.

Tosh begins by looking at the experience of boyhood, married life, sex, and fatherhood in the early decades of the nineteenth century -- illustrated by case studies representing a variety of backgrounds -- and then contrasts this with the lives of the late Victorian generation. He finds that the first group of men placed a new value on the home as a reaction to the disorienting experience of urbanization and as a response to the teachings of Evangelical Christianity. Domesticity still proved problematic in practice, however, because most men were likely to be absent from home for most of the day, and the role of father began to acquire its modern indeterminacy. By the 1870s, men were becoming less enchanted with the pleasures of home. Once the rights of wives were extended by law and society, marriage seemed less attractive, and the bachelor world of clubland flourished as never before.

The Victorians declared that to be fully human and fully masculine, men must be active participants in domestic life. In exposing the contradictions in this ideal, they defined the climate for gender politics in the next century.

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Review: A Man's Place: Masculinity and the Middle-Class Home in Victorian England

User Review  - Tristan Bridges - Goodreads

Tosh's analysis is a wonderful illustration of how the separation between "public" and "private" has always been more shorthand than reality. Tosh provides several case studies of Victorian households ... Read full review

Review: A Man's Place: Masculinity and the Middle-Class Home in Victorian England

User Review  - Jackie - Goodreads

Tosh synthesizes a large body of previous historical work on masculinity and domesticity in the Victorian period, bringing abstract concepts to life by adding “case-studies,” information on the lives ... Read full review

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About the author (1999)

John Tosh has been at the forefront of British work on the history of masculinities for the last fifteen years. He has published "A ManAs Place: Masculinity and the Middle-Class Home in Victorian England "(Yale), and with Michael Roper edited "Manful Assertions: Masculinities in ""Britain""since 1800 "(Routledge).

He is also author of the classic introduction to historiography, "The Pursuit of History "(Longman), and has edited "Historians On History "(Longman).

John Tosh is Professor of History, University of Surrey Roehampton.

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