Cornish tenor Charles Incledon (1763–1826) was a prominent figure in Britain during the Napoleonic Wars, entertaining patriotic crowds with popular naval ballads. Unlike other nationalistic singers of the period, Incledon did not merely masquerade in a sailor’s costume on stage – he was an authentic sailor. Despite his popularity, Incledon was an especially problematic figure. His complex masculinity was the crux of this problem. Although some saw the tenor as a brave British Tar, others imagined him as a stereotypical Georgian sailor – a rough and ready character with a penchant for women and grog. His identity was complicated yet further by his status as a singer – a profession that was characterised as feminine and foreign in nineteenth-century Britain. Incledon’s masculinity was therefore intriguingly multi-faceted and contradictory. He was at once a brave British Tar, a Regency rake, an effeminate showman and a figure of ridicule. This chapter draws on a wide range of multimedia sources to examine the various strands of Incledon’s masculinity, focusing especially on the ways in which the singer attempted to present himself. An analysis of Incledon’s reception reveals much about contemporary attitudes towards naval masculinity.
This collection explores the role of martial masculinities in shaping nineteenth-century British culture and society in a period framed by two of the greatest wars the world had ever known and punctuated by many smaller conflicts. Bringing together contributions from a diverse range of leading scholars, it offers fresh, interdisciplinary perspectives on an emerging field of study. Chapters in this volume draw on historical, literary, visual and musical sources to demonstrate the centrality of the military and its masculine dimensions in the shaping of Victorian and Edwardian personal and national identities. Focusing on both the experience of military service and its imaginative forms, it examines such topics as bodies and habits, families and domesticity, heroism and chivalry, religion and militarism, and youth and fantasy. The collection is divided into two sections: ‘experiencing’ and ‘imagining’ military masculinities. This division represents the two principal areas of investigation for scholars working in this field. The section on experience considers the realities of military life in this period, and asks to what extent they produced a particular kind of gendered identity. The second section moves on to explore the wider impact of martial masculinities on culture and society, asking whether nineteenth-century Britain can be regarded as a warrior nation. These two sections ultimately demonstrate that the reception, representation and replication of masculine values in Britain during this period was far more complex than might be assumed.