Echoes of Highflyer, Hooves, and Horns: The Significance of Coaching in Nineteenth-Century British Literature

Cunningham, Alyson (2022) Echoes of Highflyer, Hooves, and Horns: The Significance of Coaching in Nineteenth-Century British Literature. PhD thesis, University of Lincoln.

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Echoes of Highflyer, Hooves, and Horns: The Significance of Coaching in Nineteenth-Century British Literature
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Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
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Abstract

This thesis establishes how, and why, nineteenth-century writers – to include Charles Dickens, Charles Molloy Westmacott, Amelia Edwards and Nellie Weeton – depicted coaching so extensively in their work. The study explores the representation of both the vehicles themselves and the experiences of those related to the industry, both often situated in relation to contemporary topical issues. This study demonstrates that the coaching industry of the early nineteenth century established a new found freedom of movement across the country and enhanced the opportunities of work and leisure as a result. Writers cemented the social significance of the coach by establishing its historical, iconic, position through their work. The cross-section of society whose mobility was facilitated by the coach, and collective sociability afforded by coaches, enabled people in the period to engage in conversation with, and comprehend the lives and opinions of, those normally beyond reach in their day to day sphere of acquaintance. Writers used such opportunities to present a critical commentary on coaching, by observing passengers, baggage, paraphernalia, weather, landscape, stage stops, drivers, and incidents occurring throughout the journey as coaches traversed the country. As well as fiction this study examines memoirs, journal articles, and letters, all evaluated from a historicist perspective, revealing the coach’s symbolic function in literature as well as its significance as an emblem of social and political change during the century. The coach and its occupants equipped writers with topical opportunities for social and cultural criticism, as coaching, as a method of transport, peaked and then waned. The division of the study into four main thematic chapters – on social interaction, coaching evaluated through the mode of humour, in a tone of nostalgia and in the form or genre of the ghost story respectively – emphasises an untapped range of literary material which prioritises the coach, and emphasises the diversity of authors’ representations about the industry and in terms of an experience from a personal point of view. This study argues that writers’ usage of the coaching motif identifies responses of the population to their rapidly changing world of urbanisation, technology, and growth in scientific knowledge – establishing the coach as a symbol of what was lost in such modernisation. This study suggests that, in literature, the coach gave rise to cultivated pride in the stability, reliability, and enjoyment of being at one with the elements and landscape at least notionally achieved in coach travel, and facilitates immersion in the spectacle and cacophony that coaching afforded. The coach also functions as a focus for the critical discussion of the minutiae of contemporary concerns, such as outdated judicial practices and corruption at elections, which are identified through dialogue, rhetoric, parody and metaphors all centred on the coach, coach travel, and the industry itself. This thesis demonstrates that coaching (superseded by the railways and compartmentalised trains), enabled a democratic class inclusivity that was lost when rail carriages were segregated into classes. This study of coaching sources identifies the consequences of the breakdown of class barriers and draws attention to the establishment of coach and driver as iconic cultural symbols, in tandem with an understanding of the emotions that the coach evoked for the nineteenth-century populace.

Keywords:British Literature, coaching, Nineteenth-century
Subjects:Q Linguistics, Classics and related subjects > Q320 English Literature
Q Linguistics, Classics and related subjects > Q321 English Literature by period
Divisions:College of Arts > School of English & Journalism > School of English & Journalism (English)
ID Code:50239
Deposited On:22 Jul 2022 12:11

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