From chapter XII of Sons and Lovers:

There was a long pause. Mrs. Radford readjusted the bacon in the Dutch oven. His heart beat fast, for fear he had offended her.

“Me!” she exclaimed at last. “No, I didn’t! And when I was in service, I knew as soon as one of the maids came out in bare shoulders what sort she was, going to her sixpenny hop!”

“Were you too good to go to a sixpenny hop?” he said.

Is a "sixpenny hop" a kind of dance? Is it for indecent people?

1 Answer 1


Graham Handley's annotated edition of Sons and Lovers simply explains that it is "a cheap dance" (page 93). Originally, admission to such dances must have cost exactly six pence, as this testimony claims, but it probably became a more general term for an inexclusive dance, far from a grand ball, where anyone who could muster a few coins could enter. (A "hop" is an informal dance, for reasons outlined here.) Presumably, that's why the maid was going and the "stately," mannered Mrs Radford wasn't; I'm not sure whether terribly indecent things went on there. Nevertheless, these sixpenny hops do seem to be contrasted with the "refined evening parties" hosted by those of the "fashionable circles," as in this 1859 book.

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