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Writing the Prizefight

Pierce Egan’s "Boxiana" World

David Snowdon

This book won the Lord Aberdare Literary Prize for Sports History (2013)

This book focuses on the literary contribution made by the pugilistic writing of Pierce Egan (c. 1772-1849), identifying the elements that rendered Egan’s style distinctive and examining the ways his writing invigorated the sporting narrative. In particular, the author analyses Egan’s blend of inventive imagery and linguistic exuberance within the commentaries of the Boxiana series (1812-29). The book explores the metropolitan and sporting jargon used by the diverse range of characters that inhabited Egan’s ‘Pugilistic Hemisphere’ and looks at Egan’s exploitation of prizefighting’s theatricality. Another significant theme is the role of pugilistic reporting in perpetuating stereotypical notions relating to British national identity, military readiness and morality. Consideration of Egan’s metropolitan rambles is complemented by discussion of the heterogeneity, spectacle and social dynamics of the prize ring and its reportage. The book traces Egan’s impact during the nineteenth century and, importantly, evaluates his influence on the subsequent development of sporting journalism.

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Bibliography

Extract

Primary Works A Amateur, An, Real Life in London, 2 vols. (London: Methuen, 1905) Anon., Pancratia, or a History of Pugilism (London: Oxberry, 1812) Badcock, John, (‘Jon Bee’), The Annals of Sporting and Fancy Gazette, 13 vols. (London: Sherwood, Neely, & Jones, 1822–8) ——, Boxiana; Or, Sketches of Modern Pugilism, vol. IV (London: Sherwood, Jones & Co., 1824) ——, Bee’s Sportsman’s Slang (London: 1825) Dowling, Vincent, Fistiana (London: Clement, 1841) Egan, Pierce, Boxiana; or, Sketches of Antient and Modern Pugilism (London: Smee- ton, 1813) ——, Boxiana; or, Sketches of Modern Pugilism, vol. II (London: Sherwood, Neely, & Jones, 1818) ——, Boxiana; Sketches of Modern Pugilism, vol. III (London: Sherwood, Neely, & Jones, 1821) ——, Life in London (London: Sherwood, Neely, & Jones, 1821) [Facsimile reprint in: John Marriott (ed.), Unknown London: Early Modernist Visions of the Metropolis, 1815–45, vol. II (London: Pickering & Chatto, 2000)] ——, Grose’s Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue (London: Sherwood, Neely, & Jones, 1823) ——, Account of the Trial of John Thurtell (London: Knight & Lacey, 1824) ——, Sporting Anecdotes (London: Sherwood, Jones, & Co., 1825) ——, New Series Boxiana, 2 vols. (London: Virtue, 1828–9) ——, Book of Sports (London: Tegg, 1832) ——, Every Gentleman’s Manual. A Lecture on the Art of Self-Defence (London: Sherwood & Bowyer, 1845) ——, The Finish to the Adventures of Tom, Jerry, and Logic, in their Pursuits Through Life In and Out of London (London: Reeves & Turner, 1887) Fewtrell, Thomas, Boxing Reviewed (London: 1790) Miles, Henry Downes, Pugilistica, 3 vols. (London: Weldon, 1880) Vasey, William, Remarks on the Inf luence of Pugilism on Morals (Newcastle: Newcastle Debating Society, 1824)...

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