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date: 30 March 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Wars fought overseas had an indelible imprint on the Victorian home front and its cultural formations. In their responses to the Crimean War (1854–6), writers of middlebrow fiction promulgated the ideal of muscular Christianity, wherein might was deployed for purposes of right. This notion found popular expression in the ideal of the games ethic, which had at its core the quintessentially British notion of fair play. This became a preoccupation within late Victorian literature for young people, as well as a recurring motif in the popular press, particularly during the Second Anglo-Boer War (1899–1902). Although it would be subject to reversal during the Great War (1914–18), this idea would endure well into the twentieth century. As it traces the career of fair play, this essay seeks to understand the contours of Victorian culture in the later nineteenth century and the reverberations of Victorian values into the twentieth century.

Keywords: war, games, play, games ethic, fair play, muscular Christianity, Crimean War, Second Anglo-Boer War, Great War

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