The public culture of the Victorian middle class looks at the creation of a distinctive 'high' culture in the industrial cities of Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester in the mid-nineteenth century and its incipient decline from the 1880s. The history of urban bourgeois culture has been relatively unexplored and under-theorised compared to popular culture. This volume therefore represents a significant contribution both to the study of middle-class cultural forms and to an understanding of the relationship between culture and power. In particular, it argues for the importance of ritualised modes of social behaviour in understanding the construction of authority in the nineteenth-century city. As well as many original arguments, the book provides a clear and useful overview of the public cultures of Victorian 'respectability'. The book will be of interest to scholars and students in the areas of social history, cultural history, urban history, cultural studies, urban studies and the sociology of culture.