In Mid-Victorian Britain, 1851-1870 Geoffrey Best claimed that during the period he surveyed, in contrast to the earlier, more pleasure-loving Georgian era, ‘the great Victorian shibboleth and criterion, respectability. . . was the sharpest of all lines of social division, between those who were and those who were not respectable: a sharper line by far than that between rich and poor’. He argued further that certain criteria of respectability were absolute and that respectable people did not get drunk or behave riotously.1 He described those who did not maintain a respectable front as social deviants and claimed that there were few departures from the ‘gold standard’ of respectability, apart from a colourful segment of aristocratic and county society, which positively flaunted its ‘disreputable’ pleasures in a sporting milieu, and a ‘bohemian’ circle of artists and writers in mid-Victorian London who ‘deliciously’ defied convention.