New Book | The Pleasure Garden, from Vauxhall to Coney Island

Posted in books by Editor on February 2, 2013

Released in December from U of Pennsylvania Press:

Jonathan Conlin, ed., The Pleasure Garden, from Vauxhall to Coney Island (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012), 352 pages, cloth ISBN 978-0812244380 / ebook ISBN 978-0812207323, $70 / £46.

15024Summers at the Vauxhall pleasure garden in London brought diverse entertainments to a diverse public. Picturesque walks and arbors offered a pastoral retreat from the city, while at the same time the garden’s attractions indulged distinctly urban tastes for fashion, novelty, and sociability. High- and low-born alike were free to walk the paths; the proximity to strangers and the danger of dark walks were as thrilling to visitors as the fountains and fireworks. Vauxhall was the venue that made the careers of composers, inspired novelists, and showcased the work of artists. Scoundrels, sudden downpours, and extortionate ham prices notwithstanding, Vauxhall became a must-see destination for both Londoners and tourists. Before long, there were Vauxhalls across Britain and America, from York to New York, Norwich to New Orleans.

This edited volume provides the first book-length study of the attractions and interactions of the pleasure garden, from the opening of Vauxhall in the seventeenth century to the amusement parks of the early twentieth. Nine essays explore the mutual influences of human behavior and design: landscape, painting, sculpture, and even transient elements such as lighting and music tacitly informed visitors how to move within the space, what to wear, how to behave, and where they might transgress. The Pleasure Garden, from Vauxhall to Coney Island draws together the work of musicologists, art historians, and scholars of urban studies and landscape design to unfold a cultural history of pleasure gardens, from the entertainments they offered to the anxieties of social difference they provoked.

Jonathan Conlin is Senior Lecturer in Modern History at the University of Southampton and author of Civilisation and The Nation’s Mantelpiece: A History of the National Gallery.

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Jonathan Conlin 1

Chapter 1. Theaters of Hospitality: The Forms and Uses of Private Landscapes and Public Gardens
John Dixon Hunt 29

Chapter 2. Pleasure Gardens and Urban Culture in the Long Eighteenth Century
Peter Borsay 49

Chapter 3. Guns in the Gardens: Peter Monamy’s Paintings for Vauxhall
Eleanor Hughes 78

Chapter 4. Performance Alfresco: Music-Making in London’s Pleasure Gardens
Rachel Cowgill 100

Chapter 5. Pleasure Gardens of America: Anxieties of National Identity
Naomi Stubbs 127

Chapter 6. Pleasure Gardens in Nineteenth-Century New Orleans: ”Useful for All Classes of Society”
Lake Douglas 150

Chapter 7. Night and Day: Illusion and Carnivalesque at Vauxhall
Deborah Epstein Nord 177

Chapter 8. ”Strange Beauty in the Night”: Whistler’s Nocturnes of Cremorne Gardens
Anne Koval 195

Chapter 9. Edwardian Amusement Parks: The Pleasure Garden Reborn?
Josephine Kane 217

Notes 247

Select Bibliography 299

List of Contributors 303

Index 307

Acknowledgments 315

2 Responses

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  1. kathleen said, on February 2, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    Scoundrels, sudden downpours, and extortionate ham prices notwithstanding…. I love it! Thanks for drawing notice to this very interesting-sounding book.

    • Editor said, on February 2, 2013 at 11:48 pm

      Thanks, Kathleen! Yes, that’s a terrific sentence for a book blurb to be sure. I look forward to seeing a copy. -CH

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