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Acting charades in 1873: girls and the stakes of the game

Faculty Advisor




games, manners and customs, amusements, games -- Great Britain -- history, games -- United States -- history

Abstract (summary)

In February 1873, following the festive Christmas holiday season, Grace MacDonald, age nineteen, created a home newspaper—The Hastings Gazette—with her siblings and cousins. Included in the Gazette is Mac‑ Donald’s “[e]xperience at a tea party in a country town,” an entertaining report of a January country party she and her sister attended. Her essay candidly comments on the clothes, company, conversation, and activities of the country party, including their evening charades: “After tea, charades were proposed and those who were to act soon being chosen retired to the fire lit bedroom to consult and arrange.” MacDonald’s account of the charades offers a glimpse of her experience of this popular but ephemeral game, but it also reveals how Victorians played the game, what the conditions of playing could be like, and what the stakes were for participants and audiences, particularly girls.

Publication Information

Fitzsimmons Frey, H. (2021). Acting charades in 1873: Girls and the stakes of the game. In Hawkins, A. R., Bistline, E. N., Blackwell, C. S., & Ives, M. (Eds.), Playing games in nineteenth-century Britain and America (pp. 153-171). SUNY Press.



Item Type

Book Chapter



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