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The X ClubPower and Authority in Victorian Science$
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Ruth Barton

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226551616

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226551753.001.0001

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The Life, Work, and Times of the X Club

The Life, Work, and Times of the X Club

(p.445) Retrospective The Life, Work, and Times of the X Club
The X Club

Ruth Barton

University of Chicago Press

The “Retrospective” provides an overview of the rise and decline of the X Club. Interacting theological, political, and scientific controversies in the early 1860s gave naturalists, physical scientists, and the philosophical Spencer a shared sense of beleaguerment against common enemies. As the Club formed in late 1864 their concerns culminated in an alliance with political and theological liberals to expand the science columns in the weekly Reader. By 1870 their tentacles were everywhere – in scientific societies and education lobbies, and as recognized spokespersons for science. However, as they gained more individual authority the Club became less important as a lobby group. By the late 1870s they often had different priorities and were sometimes critical of one another. In the early 1880s, with the death of Nelly Lubbock, Lubbock’s remarriage, and the deaths of Spottiswoode and Busk, the social centers of the group and the moderating influences among the friends were lost. Club meetings were poorly attended. Nevertheless, in the 1880s they had cultural authority and occasionally united in controversial causes. The chapter sums up their objectives, emphasizes the many allies who were crucial to their successes, acknowledges their failures, and discusses the larger context of their successes.

Keywords:   rise and decline of the X Club, death of Nelly Lubbock, objectives of the X Club, allies of the X Club, successes and failures of the X Club

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