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The Black Ball: Looking for the “Right Sort” of Member

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Abstract

James Payn’s observation demonstrates how easy it could be to be excluded from a London club. One wrong move, one off-color joke, and someone might take offense. In theory, club elections were a straightforward means to replace retiring or resigning members. The rules of the process were relatively simple. But the realities of club elections were as messy and contested as the construction of class itself. Understanding how clubmen chose their members grants insight into club history behind closed doors, and shows how class boundaries were confirmed and contested in late-Victorian Britain.

Keywords

  • Club Member
  • Liberal Party
  • Royal Family
  • Club Membership
  • Fictional Account

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Hennie, who has just been here, is immensely delighted with your satirical sketch of her husband. He, however, as you may suppose, is wild, and says you had better withdraw your name from the candidates’ book at his club. I don’t know how many black balls exclude, but he has a good many friends there.1

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Notes

  1. Quoted in James Payn, Some Private Views (London, 1881), 30–31.

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  4. John Scott points to a gradual unification of this mixture the landed, manufacturing and commercial classes, though this process was not yet complete until the interwar years. John Scott, The Upper Classes: Property and Privilege in Britain (London: Macmillan, 1982), 78.

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© 2011 Amy Milne-Smith

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Milne-Smith, A. (2011). The Black Ball: Looking for the “Right Sort” of Member. In: London Clubland. Palgrave Macmillan, New York. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137002082_3

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137002082_3

  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, New York

  • Print ISBN: 978-1-349-29886-0

  • Online ISBN: 978-1-137-00208-2

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