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Behind Closed Doors

On sale

28th July 2022

Price: £25

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Selected: ebook / ISBN-13: 9781472146458

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With a keen eye for the juicy anecdote, Thévoz tells the fascinating and entertaining story of the rise, decline and resurgence of London’s private members’ clubs, from the late-eighteenth century to the present day. In doing so he looks at cultural and political developments beyond the clubs, revealing how while the clubs may have been products of their city and country, they also exerted significant influence on London, Britain and places far beyond.

This is a chronicle, as informative as it is entertaining, of the ups and downs of London clubland, and how it had an impact on parts of the world far from London. It is packed with amusing anecdotes and illustrative examples of the growth of this quirky, unique institution, which grew to spread around the world. London, though, with its four hundred clubs, was always at its heart.

Thévoz reveals how everything we might have thought we knew about these clubs is wrong. They may have started out as white, male, aristocratic watering holes – but that’s only part of the story. All sections of society built their own clubs and lived their lives there: highbrow and lowbrow; women and men; working-class, middle-class and upper-class; international and British. The club has been central to a distinctively British form of leisure over more than three centuries.

Behind Closed Doors is a distillation of a decade of research and writing on London clubs, based on exclusive behind-the-scenes access to archives and proceedings, as well as a love of gossip and scandal.


Journal of Liberal History
Praise for Club Government: Seth Thévoz has undertaken the most comprehensive and rational analysis of the part clubs played and how they were enabled to do so. He has demystified some of the aura that Trollope and Disraeli tried to create around clubland.
Sherlock Holmes Journal
Praise for Club Government: Dr Thévoz's scholarly and readable book is an outstanding and important contribution to our understanding of politics in nineteenth-century Britain.
Ian Hislop, Editor, <i>Private Eye</i>
Praise for Club Government: A fascinating forensic study of the period's networks of power.
Sir Peter Newsam, former Director of the Institute of Education, London University
Praise for Club Government: Skilful presentation as well as uniquely well-informed content.
A lively and comprehensive study of London clubs ... an entertainingly readable and well-researched glimpse into a world
Dr Piers Brendon, former Keeper of the Churchill Archives and author of <i>The Decline and Fall of the British Empire</i>
Praise for Club Government: This definitive study shows how smart London clubs played a crucial role in shaping mid-Victorian politics . . . Presenting a wealth of new evidence, he has produced a tour de force of scholarship.
An entertaining glimpse into an anachronistic world
David Palfreyman, author of <i>London’s Pall Mall Clubs</i>
Praise for Club Government: Compelling and detailed.
Professor Sunny Singh, novelist
Praise for Club Government: Magisterial.
Professor Eugenio Biagini, Cambridge University
Praise for Club Government: We are in Seth Thévoz's debt for this splendid book, at once a scholarly work and an insider's account.
The Times
[A] secretive world of arcane rules, unbelievable anecdotes and disreputable behaviour
Praise for Club Government: Excellent . . . a carefully sourced study . . . It's an easy and educative read from someone who not only researches (and then writes) well, but whose understanding of what drives politicians to do what they do is weaved throughout the book.