Peter Bailey

Visiting Professor, Department of History

Emeritus Professor of History, University of Manitoba

Department of History

IU; IU Bloomington

Full Biography

I am a social and cultural historian of modern Britain concentrating on leisure, popular culture, gender and sexuality. A native Englishman, I did my professional training in Canada where I taught most of my career before moving to the US. My first book Leisure and Class in Victorian England bore the imprint of the new ‘cultural studies’ and class as a central dynamic in British society (as it still remains). Popular Culture and Performance in the Victorian City worked a broader theoretical and historiographical palette with attention to language,  social action and the play of gender. Studies of the pub, music hall, theatre, and comic newspaper (and a short history of noise) reveal distinctive codes of humor, sociability and glamour, constituting a new populist mentalite of agency and affect in the shifting urban world of modernity and consumer capitalism. Currently I’m completing a book Fun Factories: British Music Hall and the Variety Stage, 1840-1960 including the neglected later history, the trademark humor as social text, and the lengthy influence of Americanisation. My experience as stage actor and jazz pianist helps to illuminate the role of performance in everyday life and its histories.

Honors and Awards

  • Joint Research Fellowship, Newberry Library, Chicago; John Rylands Research Institute, Manchester, 2016
  • Visiting Fellow, Institute of Historical Research, School for Advanced Study, University of London, 2013-14
  • Research and Travel Awards, Social Science and Humanities Research
  • Council of Canada (SSHRC), 1978-9; 1982-84; 1989-1990; 1997; 2003-06
  • Leverhulme Fellowship, University of Hertfordshire, 2004-05
  • University of Manitoba Awards for Teaching Excellence, 1996; 2001; 2002

Research Interests

  • Social and cultural history of leisure, popular culture and sexuality in modern Britain, 1815 to the present
  • Ongoing projects: music hall and the variety stage; popular musical theatre; Americanisation in British popular culture; the history of jazz and critical commentary in Britain; humor as social text.


  • B.A. at Hons, Oxford
  • Certificate at Education, Manchester
  • Ph.D. at University fo British Columbia



  • London Low Life: Street Culture, Social Reform and the Victorian Underworld. Marlborough & Chicago: Adam Matthew, 2010 [with Judith A. Allen & Sean Sesgreen, eds.]
  • Leisure and Class in Victorian England: Rational Recreation and the Contest for Control. London: Routledge/Methuen, 1978, 1987, 2006
  • Popular Culture and Performance in the Victorian City. Cambridge University Press, 1998

Articles and Chapters

  • “ ‘Entertainmentality!’ Liberalising Pleasure in a Modern Leisure Industry” in Simon Gunn & James Vernon, eds. The Peculiarities of Liberal Modernity in Imperial Britain. (Berkeley Series in British Studies,1) Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012, pp. 119-133.
  • “Adventures in Space: Victorian Railway Erotics or Taking Alienation for a Ride.” Journal of Victorian Culture 9:1 (Spring 2004), pp. 1-21. (Reprinted in Voyage, Koln, vol. 6, “Travelling Bodies”.)
  • “Conspiracies of Meaning: Music Hall Song and the Knowingness of Popular Culture.” Past and Present 144 (August 1994), pp. 138-170.
  • "Parasexuality and Glamour: The Victorian Barmaid as Cultural Prototype.” Gender and History 2 (Summer 1990), pp.148-172. (Reprinted in Lovell, ed. Feminist Cultural Studies, 1995; Braun & Kloos, eds. Postmodernisation; A Comparative View, 1995; Phillips & Reay, eds. Sexualities in History, 2002;; Boyd and McWilliam, eds. Victorian Studies Reader, 2007.)