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  • Published: 3 Aug 2016
  • DOI: 10.4324/9781138641839-HOF1-1


  • Abstract
  • Upper- and middle-class women’s leisure
  • Working-women’s leisure
  • The past and the present
  • References

A Woman’s Work is Never Done? Women and Leisure in the Nineteenth Century and Beyond


The modern idea of leisure – free time in which to do what one wishes – has not always been the way the word has been understood. For the Victorians and beyond, leisure was strongly marked by prohibitions relating to both class and gender. Indeed, leisure may even be defined by the choices available depending on class status. The development of women’s leisure during the nineteenth century is a story of increasing freedoms in some domains, and increasing regulation in others. Both the freedoms and limitations of women’s leisure are marked by the social expectations of relative class positions.