An Almanac of twelve Sports (1898), illustrated by William Nicholson

Below are some beautiful illustrations from An Almanac of twelve Sports (1898). Illustrated by [Sir] William Nicholson (English artist, lived 1872-1949). Words by Rudyard Kipling (not shown here). Published by R. H. Russell. New York.

Perhaps a little surprisingly, Rudyard Kipling did not share the traditional British passion for sports. With the possible exception of polo in India, and fishing generally. Perhaps this was due to his poor eyesight.

Illustrator William Nicholson‘s range was remarkable. He was also a still-life, landscape and portrait painter. A wood-engraver and lithographer. An author of children’s books. A designer for the theatre. I wonder what he did in his spare time?

Nicholson illustrated several books by his poet son-in-law, Robert Graves (probably famous today for the historical novels ‘I, Claudius’, ‘Claudius the God‘, the autobiography ‘Good-Bye to All That’ and his book on the nature of myth-making ‘The White Goddess’).

JANUARY – Hunting

FEBRUARY – Coursing

MARCH – Racing

APRIL – Boating

MAY – Fishing

JUNE – Cricket

JULY – Archery

AUGUST – Coaching

SEPTEMBER – Shooting



DECEMBER – Skating


4 thoughts on “An Almanac of twelve Sports (1898), illustrated by William Nicholson

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  1. I didn’t know Jane Austen played shuttlecock! I wonder if it is like badminton?

    Sadly I don’t know of a good book – and I keep my eyes open for books on Victorian/Edwardian sporting history. Maybe an opening there for someone.

    I think wealthy women had a lot more opportunities to get involved in organised sport than the poor (or maybe it’s just that the doings of the rich get written about more). Definitely cricket, archery, ice skating, roller-skating, toboggan, sleigh riding, fox hunting, horseback riding, cards (does that count?), fishing, tennis, curling, golf, boating and croquet – to name a few.

    This website looks interesting [Victorian Pastimes & Recreations: Women in Sports]

    Not sure if this link (below) will work, but this is one of my favourite “women playing sport” paintings. Ladies playing cricket in 1779 (so, Georgians!).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes my understanding is shuttlecock was an early form of badminton.

      That is likely true about sports being played mostly by wealthy women, especially considering that many of them were lawn-game types. Looking through the VictorianVoices site though, I can see that more athletic sports got introduced over the years, as by 1900 women are playing hockey. However, as a female avid soccer player myself I had to laugh at the “Athletics for Ladies” article that “condemns” women who try to gain “notoriety” and “pocket-money” for “displays on the football field”: “However the number who have thus foolishly exhibited themselves is too small to allow of their being considered in any way representatives of the modern movement.”

      Liked by 2 people

  2. 😀 ‘The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.’ That said, despite the restrictions, I suspect there were a lot of fit, strong Victorian women about (those that could get an adequate diet) – solid fuel fires, few labour saving devices, no cars etc.

    Liked by 1 person

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