New book shines spotlight on horse-racing’s emergence as mainstream sports activity
An emeritus professor from the University of Cumbria, who last year was elected to the post of President of the European Committee for Sport History, this month publishes his latest book Horse Racing and British Society in the Long Eighteenth Century.
The volume, published by Boydell press, is the fifteenth of Mike Huggins’ monographs and edited collections. It explores the cultural world of racing and its relationship with British society during the 1700s, examining how and why race meetings changed from a marginal and informal interest for some of the elite to become the most significant leisure event of the summer season.
The book provides a fascinating chronicle of racehorse ownership, as well as the previously hidden world of racing's key professionals: jockeys, trainers, bloodstock breeders, stud grooms and stable hands.
Mike is not only a major commentator on sport history and culture, but also on British mainstream history, and his long and distinguished career has resulted in widespread recognition for his international scholarly work from the North American Society for Sports History, the British Society for Sport History and the International Society for Physical Education and Sport.
Mike says of his new book:
"Exploring the hitherto under-explored origins of British racing has been fascinating. The recent move to digital history has really opened up the past, so I was able to search early newspapers on-line, exploit genealogical material, search court records of testimony to see how racing was used in discourse, and track trends through what historians now call ‘culturomics’, as well as using more traditional archival approaches. And it has also informed my next collection, out later this year, which explores the world of match fixing in sport in historical perspective."