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

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


By (author) John Tosh


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  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Format: Paperback | 272 pages
  • Dimensions: 150mm x 232mm x 24mm | 458g
  • Publication date: 28 May 2007
  • Publication City/Country: New Haven
  • ISBN 10: 0300123620
  • ISBN 13: 9780300123623
  • Illustrations note: 16 b/w illus.
  • Sales rank: 277,989

Product description

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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Author information

John Tosh is professor of history at the University of Surrey Roehampton.

Review quote

"'Absorbing... A distinguished contribution to the history of the Victorian family... Scholars and students in a host of disciplines will find A Man's Place an engrossing and indispensable work.' Victorian Studies 'This is an important book not only for its focus on men's place in the home in Victorian England but because it represents a notable turn in gender identity and historical scholarship... The propositions offered by Tosh are thoughtful and his arguments are logically made. His excellent case studies, nicely integrated into the text, enhance the readability of the work; the writing style is lucid.' Albert J. Schmidt, Journal of Social History 'His work goes beyond previous studies of masculinity, which have tended to focus on all-male environments such as the public school. This is gender history, looking at men in relationship to women, and informed by feminist scholarship on inequalities of power within the family.' Clare Midley, History Today"