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Writers, Readers, and ReputationsLiterary Life in Britain 1870-1918$
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Philip Waller

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199541201

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199541201.001.0001

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Social Prestige and Clubbability

Social Prestige and Clubbability

(p.490) 13 Social Prestige and Clubbability
Writers, Readers, and Reputations

Philip Waller (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Government was not the only source of honours. Equally welcome, and for some writers more welcome — were honorary degrees from universities — Oxford and Cambridge especially— and freedoms of towns and cities. Likewise, membership of West End clubs was valued as a mark of social advancement for those from poor or modest backgrounds. A pecking order of intellectual prestige was acknowledged, the Athenaeum leading, followed by the Savile; but other clubs catering for specialist political or professional interest such as the Reform or the Garrick exercised strong appeal. These were generally men-only societies, though some would admit female guests and women writers were involved in establishing separate clubs, such as the Lyceum. Irregular dining clubs or associations with an ideological flavour such as the Omar Khayyam were popular. Writers whose experiences are examined in this chapter include Matthew Arnold, J. M. Barrie, Arnold Bennett, A. C. Benson, Dickens, Rider Haggard, Thomas Hardy, Anthony Hope, Henry James, Constance Smedley, Tennyson, Thackeray, and Trollope.

Keywords:   honorary degrees, west End clubs, athenaeum, savile, garrick, omar Khayyam, lyceum

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