C. Stein, “Yarns in the Club Smoking-Room: A V.C.,” The Pall Mall Magazine, October, 1894, 195.
Anthropologists have long noted that gossip is often a subtle mechanism of social control. John Beard Haviland, Gossip, Reputation, and Knowledge in Zincantan (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1977), 3, 6.
Jennifer Coates, Men Talk: Stories in the Making of Masculinities (Maiden, MA: Blackwell, 2003), 3.
James C. Scott, Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985).
Adam Fox, Oral and Literate Culture in England, 1500–1700 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2000)
Haviland, Gossip, Reputation, and Knowledge in Zinacantan
James C. Scott, Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992)
Patricia Meyer Spacks, Gossip (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986)
Melanie Tebbutt, Women’s Talk: A Social History of “Gossip” in Working-Class Neighbourhoods, 1880–1960 (Aldershot: Scolar Press, 1995)
Francoise Waquet, Parler comme un livre: L’oralité et le savoir, XVIe-XXe siècle (Paris: Albin Michel, 2003)
Chris Wickham, “Gossip and Resistance among the Medieval Peasantry,” Past and Present no. 160 (August, 1998): 2–24.
Lucy McDiarmid, “Oscar Wilde, Lady Gregory, and Late-Victorian Table-Talk,” in Oscar Wilde and Modern Culture: The Making of a hegend, ed. Joseph Bristow (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2008), 50.
British newspaper consumption skyrocketed in the late nineteenth century. There were over 6 million regular readers in England by the 1870s and London alone had thirteen morning and nine evening national dailies in 1888. L. Perry Curtis, Jack the Ripper and the London Press (New Haven: Yale University press, 2001), 56, 59.
The Star was the first British daily with a regular gossip column. Gary Weber, “Henry Labouchere, Truth and the New Journalism of Late Victorian Britain,” Victorian Periodicals Review 26, no. 1 (1993): 38, 19 n 38.
Bernard Capp, When Gossips Meet: Women, Family, and Neighbourhood in Early Modern England (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), 51.
A gossip was first identified as a sponsor for a baptism c. 1014. The term became associated with female friends in the mid fourteenth century, though often still tied to those present at a birth. It was only in the sixteenth century that gossip became associated with a woman who enjoyed idle talk and the latest news. Oxford English Dictionary.
As Sir Oliver says, “There are a set of malicious prating prudent gossips, both male and female, who murder characters to kill time and will rob a young fellow of his good name before he has years to know the value of it.” Richard Sheridan, The School for Scandal, in The School for Scandal and Other Plays, ed. Michael Cordner (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), 232.
A Woman, “Of Gossip,” Vanity Fair, November 23, 1899, 358.
Alfred Ayres, The Mentor: A Little Book for the Guidance of Such Men and Boys as Would Appear to Advantage in the Society of Persons of the Better Sort (New York: D. Appleton, 1902), 152–153.
R. W. Connell, Masculinities, 2nd ed. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005), 76–81.
The published biography of George Alexander Baird reads as an extended gossip column on the gentlemanjockey who died at age thirty two. He was a constant source of gossip during his life as a wealthy spendthrift who was heavily involved in both the Turf and the boxing circuit. John Malcolm Bulloch, The Last Baird Laird of Auchmedden and Strichen: The Case of Mr. Abington (Aberdeen: Privately Printed, 1934).
Jan B. Gordon, Gossip and Subversion in the Nineteenth-Century Novel: Echo’s Economies (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1996), 38–39.
The freedom of talk inspired fear among authorities that atheism might take root. Brian Cowan, “What Was Masculine About the Public Sphere? Gender and the Coffeehouse Milieu in Post-Restoration England,” History Workshop Journal 51, no. 3 (2001): 139–140.
Brian Cowan, “Mr. Spectator and the Coffeehouse Public Sphere,” Eighteenth-Century Studies 37, no. 3 (2004): 356.
Quoted in Venetia Murray, High Society in the Regency Period, 1788–1830 (London: Penguin, 1998), 34.
Ex-Attaché, “London’s Leading Club: Features of English Club Life and the Relative Status of the Clubs of the Metropolis,” New York Daily Tribune, January 19, 1902, 10.
Francis Gledstances Waugh, The Athenaeum Club and Its Associations (London, 1894), 14.
Serjeant Ballantine, Some Experiences of a Barrister’s Life (London, 1898), 187.
Un Garçon, “The Social Pilgrimage: Clubs and Clubmen,” Vanity Fair, September 7, 1893, 153.
Joseph Hatton, “London Club-Land,” The Art Journal, April 1885, 100.
For example, Herbert Henry Asquith, Memories and Reflections, 1852–1927, vol. 1 (London: Cassell, 1928)
Sir Charles Biron, Without Prejudice: Impressions of Life and Law (London: Faber and Faber, 1936)
Barnaby Brook, Mock-Turtle: Being the Memoirs of a Victorian Gentleman (New York: Minton Balch, 1931)
Almeric William Fitzroy, Memoirs, 3rd ed. (London: Hutchinson, 1925). Much more political gossip is outlined in such diaries and memoirs, but most men did not record where they heard the latest gossip.
He did not specify what club he was at for breakfast. Montstuart E. Grant Duff, Notes from a Diary (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1905), 1: 21–22, 294.
Henry Lucy, The Diary of a Journalist (London: John Murray, 1920), 2: 83.
Mrs. Irwin Smart, “Which?” Vanity Fair, July 23, 1913, 95.
E. F. Benson’s story the rumors are more vague at the man’s club, and though widespread, are presented as untrue. E. F. Benson, Dodo; a Detail of the Day, 2nd ed. (New York, 1894), 190.
Fitzroy Gardner, More Reminiscences of an Old Bohemian (London: Hutchinson, 1926), 174.
As Laura Gowing makes clear, gossip has considerable social power generally, and particular power to shape normative concepts of gender and sexuality. Laura Gowing, Domestic Dangers: Women, Words, and Sex in Early Modern London (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996).
Emeric Hulme Beaman, “Vain Tale.—No. DXCIII. His Friend’s Name,” Vanity Fair, April 3, 1902. There is a record of at least one actual suicide occurring on club premises that was likely the subject of many club wags. In May 1905 Percival Osborn shot himselfin the lower billiard room of the Travellers’ Club. His death was officially ruled a suicide due to temporary insanity. The shame of this act was accentuated by the fact that he killed himself in a relatively public way. The son of the deceased man wrote to the committee of the Club soon after to apologize for his father’s act. Committee Minute Book, May 17, 1905, Travellers’ Club Archive, London, 140.
Major Griffiths, “Cotton Wool’s Career,” Punch, November 7, 1900, 341.
C. Stein, “Yarns in the Club Smoking-Room: A Death Vacancy,” The Pall Mall Magazine, June 18, 1894
C. Stein, “Yarns in the Club Smoking-Room: A V. C.,” The Pall Mall Magazine, October 18, 1894
T. P. N., “Bribery and Corruption. Some Club Yarns.— No. I,” Vanity Fair, July 6, 1910
T. P. N., “Bribery and Corruption. Some Club Yarns.— No. II,” Vanity Fair, July 13, 1910
T. P. N., “Bribery and Corruption. Some Club Yarns.— No. III,” Vanity Fair, July 20, 1910
T. P. N., “Bribery and Corruption. Some Club Yarns.— No. IV,” Vanity Fair, July 27, 1910
T. P. N., “Bribery and Corruption. Some Club Yarns.— No. V,” Vanity Fair, August 3, 1910
T. P. N., “Bribery and Corruption. Some Club Yarns.— No. VI,” Vanity Fair, August 10, 1910
T. P. N., “Bribery and Corruption. Some Club Yarns.— No. VII,” Vanity Fair, August 17, 1910
T. P. N., “Bribery and Corruption. Some Club Yarns.— No. VIII,” Vanity Fair, August 21, 1910.
Roger Fulford, Boodle’s 1762–1962: A Short History (London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1962), 1.
Michael Curtin, Propriety and Position: A Study of Victorian Manners (New York: Garland, 1987), 148.
Trevor Fisher, Oscar and Bosie: A Fatal Passion (Stroud, Gloucestershire: Sutton, 2002), 109.
Oscar Wilde to R. H. Sherard, October 16, 1897, in The Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde, ed. Rupert Hart-Davis and Merlin Holland (New York: Henry Holt, 2000), 963.
Stanley Naylor, Gaiety and George Grossmith: Random Reflections on the Serious Business of Enjoyment (London: Stanley Paul, 1913), 179.
John Scott, The Upper Classes: Property and Privilege in Britain, Contemporary Social Theory (London: Macmillan Press, 1982), 177–178.
Jeannette Walls, Dish: How Gossip Became the News and the News Became Just Another Show (New York: Harper, 2001), 4.
In the American context, jurists even agreed that some right to privacy should be guaranteed by laws, and a number of decisions in the 1890s confirmed that right. Jennifer Frost, Hedda Hopper’s Hollywood: Celebrity Gossip and American Conservatism (New York: New York University Press, 2011), 20.
Patricia Meyer Spacks, Gossip (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986), 10.
Nicola Parsons, Reading Gossip in Early Eighteenth-Century England (Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), 8. Shared stories or inside jokes typically provide a unique view of social structure, as they depend on a consensus of knowledge for recognizing the humor. Mary Douglas, “Jokes,” in Rethinking Popular Culture, 293.
Joseph Hatton, “London Club-Land II,” The Art Journal, May 1885, 130.
G. M. Wrong, The Savile Club, 1868 to 1923 (London: Privately printed for the Committee of the Club by Neill Edinburgh, 1923), 24.
Many clubmen owned newspapers, while others were journalists, critics, and artists hired by the press. Nineteenth-century society journalists had not yet reached the era of Waugh’s Vile Bodies where friends betrayed every secret of their social lives to the press. Evelyn Waugh, Vile Bodies (Boston: Back Bay Books), 1999.
Percy Fitzgerald to sub-committee of Garrick Club, October 4, 1904, Box 2 1900–1949, Garrick Club Archive, London. Fitzgerald’s book proves his claim, as it focuses on the early history of the club, its picture collection, and the early days of the London theater. Percy Fitzgerald, The Garrick Club (London: Elliot Stock, 1904).
E. F. Benson, As We Were: A Victorian Peepshow (Toronto: Penguin Books, 2001), 204.
Richard Alexander Hough, The Ace of Clubs: A History of the Garrick (London: Andre Deutsch, 1986), 117.
A further layer to the story is that Yates’ article was published on the same day that Dickens publicly announced his separation from his wife. The literary rivalry, and the fact that Dickens believed Thackeray had been spreading rumours about his separation in the Garrick make it difficult to believe the timing was mere coincidence. P. D. Edwards, Dickens’s “Young Men”: George Augustus Sala, Edmund Yates and the World of Victorian Journalism (Aldershot: Ashgate, 1997), 62.
Edmund Yates, Mr. Thackeray, Mr. Yates, and the Garrick Club: The Correspondence and Facts (London, 1859). While he claimed no bitterness as to his expulsion, he still believed in the injustice of the act. Edmund Yates, “An Old Club Scandal” c. January 1880, Box 1 1831–1899, Garrick Club Archive, London.
Anthony Lejeune, The Gentlemen’s Clubs of London (London: Macdonald and Jane’s, 1979), 34, 127.
Fred Inglis, A Short History of Celebrity (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010), 10–12.
As Laura Nym Mayhall points out, it was not until after the First World War that British monarchs began to seek out popularity through the press. Laura E. Nym Mayhall, “The Prince of Wales versus Clark Gable: Anglophone Celebrity and Citizenship between the Wars,” Cultural and Social History 4, no. 4 (2007): 532.
Isabella, “A Letter from an American Lady,” The World, August 25, 1880, 18.
A Member of the St. James’s Club, “The St. James’s Club,” Vanity Fair, December 11, 1881, 335.
Michael Havers, Edward Grayson, Peter Shankland, The Royal Baccarat Scandal (London: William Kimber, 1977), 60
Michael Diamond, Victorian Sensation: Or the Spectacular, the Shocking and the Scandalous in Nineteenth-Century Britain (London: Anthem Press, 2004), 34. The Prince of Wales’ reputation suffered almost as much as Gordon-Cummings. As E. F. Benson quipped, “If the Prince himself had been detected cheating, he could not have been more savagely sentenced.” Benson, As We Were, 212.
Michel Foucault, “Two Lectures,” Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and other Writings, 1972–1977 (New York: Pantheon Books, 1980).