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Behind Closed Doors: The Secret Life of London Private Members' Clubs

Seth Alexander Thevoz

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History

A look inside the hidden world of London's private members' clubs, from the late-eighteenth century to the present. If we think of these clubs as predominantly white, male and aristocratic, we could not be more wrong. Their true story is infinitely more interesting.

With a keen eye for the juicy anecdote, Thevoz 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.

Thevoz 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.

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