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‘What girl will now remain ignorant of swimming?’ Agnes Beckwith, aquatic entertainer and Victorian role model

Day, Dave (2012) ‘What girl will now remain ignorant of swimming?’ Agnes Beckwith, aquatic entertainer and Victorian role model. Women's History Review, 21 (3). pp. 419-446. ISSN 1747-583X

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Abstract

Interest in swimming for women during the second half of the nineteenth century was stimulated by the public appearances of professional female natationists who performed in endurance events, exhibited and raced in swimming baths, and displayed ornamental swimming skills in music hall tanks, as well as teaching swimming in female-only classes. This narrative explores briefly the life course of Agnes Beckwith, the ‘London Naiad’, during the last quarter of the century and concludes that individuals like Agnes, who had a lifetime of involvement in all areas of aquatics, contributed significantly to the increasing popularity of the activity among women.

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