Friends of Rowing History     

    [Home]   [Time Line]   [Equipment]   [U.S. Team]   [Image Gallery]   [Links]


The Don's List

Extracts from and notes on Frederick Brittain's
(the first rowing bibliography)

by Thomas E. Weil

Oar Scull & Rudder - 1930

Rowing deserves far more attention from the sports studies academy than it gets. An understanding of the origins and evolution of rowing, the first modern sport, should be as obligatory for the team sport history student as courses in the history of baseball or cricket. One of the few writers who has approached the subject of rowing studies from a scholarly perspective was Frederick Brittain, a don of Jesus College at Cambridge University, and a member of the inner circle of Steve Fairbairn, possibly the most influential coach and master of the sport of rowing, and the major advocate (in the face of Oxford and Eton based "orthodoxy") of keeping an open mind about how better to move an oared boat.

In addition to being a fervent collector of works on rowing, Freddy Brittain made a number of significant contributions to rowing literature. His efforts include (i) writing, with Humphrey B. Playford, THE JESUS COLLEGE BOAT CLUB, CAMBRIDGE, with an introduction by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch (Cambridge: W. Heffer & Sons Ltd, 1928. xvi, 298 pp.), (ii) selecting, editing and arranging the writings of Steve Fairbairn set forth in SLOWLY FORWARD (Cambridge: W. Heffer & Sons Ltd., 1929. vi, 42 pp.), (iii) providing a eulogy for his friend, STEVE 1862-1938 (Reprinted from The Cambridge Review, May 27th, 1938. [8] pp.), and (iv) authoring, again with Humphrey B. Playford, THE JESUS COLLEGE CAMBRIDGE BOAT CLUB, 1827-1962 (Cambridge: W. Heffer & Sons Limited, 1962. xii, 324 pp.).

Those interested in knowing more about this dedicated scholar of rowing may wish to refer to his autobiography, ITíS A DONíS LIFE (London: Heinemann, 1972. viii, 262 pp.). But his most important contribution to the corpus of rowing studies and literature is undoubtedly his rowing bibliography, OAR, SCULL AND RUDDER (London: Humphrey Milford, Oxford University Press, 1930. xxi, 112 pp.).

More on the scope of this list



1. A Boating Man, A TREATISE ON THE ART OF ROWING AS PRACTISED AT CAMBRIDGE (Cambridge: J. Hall, 1842) 36 pp.

3. A.T.W. Shadwell, A TREATISE ON STEERING (1844)

5. Oarsmen, PRINCIPLES OF ROWING (London (Westley), Cambridge (Johnson) and Oxford (Slatter), 1846) 26 pp.

6. A Rower of Thirty Matches, AQUATICS (London: Whittaker, 1851) 32 pp.


7. A Member of the C.U.B.C. [J.F. Bateman], AQUATIC NOTES - (Cambridge (Deighton) and London (Bell), 1852) xii, 107 pp.
     (or Sketches Of The Rise And Progress Of Rowing At Cambridge)


8. An Amateur, THE AQUATIC ORACLE (London: Simpkin, Marshall, 1852) iv, 142 pp.

9. [R.B. Mansfield], THE LOG OF THE WATER LILY (London, 1852)

10. [R.B. Mansfield], THE WATER LILY ON THE DANUBE (London: John W. Parker, 1853) xii, 216 pp.

11. R. B. Mansfield, THE LOG OF THE WATER LILY (THAMES GIG) DURING TWO CRUISES (London: Nathaniel Cooke, 1854) iv, 124 pp.
3rd ed, 4th ed, (see #37 for 5th ed)

12. Stonehenge [J.H. Walsh], MANUAL OF BRITISH RURAL SPORTS (London: Routledge, 1856)
[numerous subsequent editions]


13. [A.T.W. Shadwell], THE PRINCIPLES OF ROWING AND STEERING (Oxford: Slatter, [1857]) 56 pp.



14. A Member of the Leander Club, THE OARSMAN'S GUIDE TO THE THAMES AND OTHER RIVERS (Lambeth: sold by Searle, 1857) xx, 124 pp.
[new ed; is there an earlier edition?]

16. J.D.R. Putnam, THE ROWER'S MANUAL (New York, 1858)

17. Iota, THE BOAT-RACING CALENDAR (London: Bosworth, 1858) vi, 123 pp.

18. ___, THE ART OF ROWING FOR BEGINNERS (London: Henry Lea, [1859] 61 pp.

19. [editors], THE ROWING ALMANACK (1861)
[annual subsequent editions]

20. Salacia, THE BOAT AND HOW TO MANAGE IT (London: Baily Brothers, 1861) iv, 92 pp.
2nd ed. (London: Houlston, 1865)

21. C. Westhall, TRAINING (London: S.O. Beeton, 1863)
[see later ed at #80]

22. An Amateur, MY FIRST BOAT RACE (Hastings: Parsons, [1865?]) 8 pp.


23. Argonaut [E.D. Brickwood], THE ARTS OF ROWING AND TRAINING (London: Horace Cox, 1866) xii, 164 pp.
[see later ed at #46; cf #415 and 416]


24. ___, HAND-BOOK OF ROWING AND SAILING (London: Cassell, [1866]) 61 pp.
[see later ed at #32]

25. H. Kelly, SCULLING, ROWING, AND YACHTING (London: Darton, 1866)

26. Hon. Secretary, YACHTING AND ROWING (London & Edinburgh: Chambers, [1866?])


27. A. Maclaren, TRAINING, IN THEORY AND PRACTICE (London: Macmillan, 1866) vi, 202 pp.
[see 2nd ed at #40]


28. ___, BOATING LIFE AT OXFORD (London: James Hogg, 1868) viii, 118 pp.

29. R.H. Blake-Humfrey, THE ETON BOATING BOOK (Eton College (Williams) and London (Simpkin), [1869]) 190 pp.
later ed 1875, later ed 1880

30. T.J. Derington, HOW TO ROW (Oxford: Slatter, 1870) viii, 112 pp.
Republished by Whitaker, 1871

31. W.F. Macmichael, THE OXFORD AND CAMBRIDGE BOAT RACES (Cambridge (Deighton) and London (Bell), 1870) xii, 380

32. ___, ROWING, SAILING, AND CANOEING (London: Dean, [1871]) 64 pp.

33. H. Cholmondeley Pennell, THE OXFORD AND CAMBRIDGE BOAT RACE (London: Hotten, [1871]) 16 pp.


35. ___, THE OARSMAN'S MANUAL (Troy, NY: Nims, 1871)


36. C.C. Knollys, OXFORD UNIVERSITY CHALLENGE RACES (Oxford: Shrimpton, 1873) xvi, 111 pp.

37. R.B. Mansfield, THE LOG OF THE WATER LILY DURING THREE CRUISES (London: Hotten, [1873]) xii, 181 pp.

38. J.E. Morgan, UNIVERSITY OARS (London: Macmillan, 1873) xvi, 397 pp.

39. F.J. Engelhardt (ed.), THE AMERICAN ROWING ALMANAC (New York: Turf, 1873) 200 plus pp.

40. A. Maclaren, TRAINING IN THEORY AND PRACTICE 2nd ed. (London: Macmillan, 1874) xii, 252 pp.

41. J. Watson, ROWING AND ATHLETIC MANUAL for 1874 (New York: Watson?, 1874)


42. W.B. Woodgate, OARS AND SCULLS (London: Bell, 1875) viii, 171 pp.
2nd ed (1889) vi, 150 pp.
[also published 1889 as #76]



43. E. Warre, NOTES ON COACHING [Eton: 1875]
2nd ed (1880), 3rd ed (1898)
Reprinted in #65 at pp. 70-71, and in Woodgate's BOATING (1889) at p. 64, and revised and reprinted in #129

44. E. Warre, NOTES ON THE STROKE (Eton: 1875)
2nd ed (1880), 3rd ed (1898)
Reprinted in #65 at pp. 68-70, and in Woodgate's BOATING (1889) at p. 64, and revised and reprinted in # 129

45. ___, YACHTING AND ROWING (New York: Beadle, 1876 or ante)

46. E. Dampier Brickwood, BOAT RACING (London: Horace Cox, 1876) x, 242 pp.

49. A Member of the C.U.B.C., THE OXFORD AND CAMBRIDGE BOAT RACE (London: Moxon, 1877) 24 pp.

50. A Member of the London Rowing Club, ROWING, SCULLING, AND CANOEING (London: Ward, Lock, 1878) 128 pp.


52. R.A. Proctor, ROUGH WAYS MADE SMOOTH (London: Chatto, 1880) vi, 410 pp. Articles at pp. 148-168 and 169-177.

53. R.A. Proctor, LIGHT SCIENCE FOR LEISURE HOURS. 1st Series (London: Longmans, 1880) 1869 article at pp. 278-283


55. ___, ROWING, SCULLING, AND CANOEING (London: Ward, 1882) 95 pp.


56. R.C. Lehmann, TUBBING (Cambridge: Metcalfe, 1882) 7 pp.




61. ___, TED MAY'S USEFUL LITTLE BOOK (Hammersmith: Ted May, 1883)
Republished annually until at least 1887.

62. R.A. Proctor, LIGHT SCIENCE FOR LEISURE HOURS. 3rd Series. (London: Longmans, 1883) Article from Echo at pp. 258-262.

63. G.G.T. Treherne and J.H.D. Goldie, RECORD OF THE UNIVERSITY BOAT RACE, 1829-1880 (London (Bickers), Oxford (Thornton), and Cambridge (Macmillan), 1883) x, 207 pp.

64. [2nd ed of #63] 1829-1883 (1884) xvi, 288 pp.

65. E. Warre, ATHLETICS, OR PHYSICAL EXERCISE AND RECREATION. PART I. (London: William Clowes, 1884) vi, 94 pp.

67. [the Club], RECORDS OF THE JESUS COLLEGE BOAT CLUB, CAMBRIDGE (Cambridge and London) 3 vols. 368 pp.
Vol. I (Cambridge: Spalding, 1885) 86 pp.
Vol. II (London: Vinton, 1886) 234 pp.
Vol III (part I) (Cambridge: Spalding, [1886?]) 48 pp.

68. F.J. Furnivall, SCULLS OR OARS (London: [Maurice Rowing Club], 1886) 6 pp.


69. H. Armytage, THE CAM AND CAMBRIDGE ROWING (Cambridge (Spalding) and London (Kent), [1886?]) 47 pp. 7"x5" ed.
11"x 9" ed.


71. T. May, THE OARSMAN'S GUIDE TO TRAINING (Hammersmith: Ted May, [1887]) ii, 16 pp.

73. W.B. Woodgate, BOATING (London: Longmans, 1888) xii, 340 pp.
2nd ed (1889) xii, 350 pp.

76. W.B. Woodgate, ROWING AND SCULLING (London: George Bell, 1889) viii, 113 pp. [reprint of 1st ed of #42]
2nd ed (1908) vi, 115 pp.

77. R.H. Forster and W. Harris, THE HISTORY OF THE LADY MARGARET BOAT CLUB, ST. JOHN'S COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE, 1825-1890 (Cambridge (Deighton) and London (George Bell), 1890) viii, 187 pp.
[2nd ed. #215]

78. ___, RULES OF THE COLUMBO ROWING CLUB (Colombo: Times, [1890?]) ii, 9 pp.

79. ___, ROWING AT WESTMINSTER FROM 1813 TO 1883 (London: Kegan Paul, 1890) 137 pp.

80. C. Westhall, THE MODERN METHOD OF TRAINING (London: Ward, 1890) 152 pp.

81. W. Winn, THE BOATING MAN'S VADEMECUM (London: Swan, 1891) viii, 336 pp.

82. E. Bell, ROWING, SCULLING, SAILING, ETC. (London 1890?)

83. W. Beach, AMATEUR AND PROFESSIONAL OARSMAN'S MANUAL (New York: Street, [1891])
Repub. by Dick (1893)

84. [Hon. L.W. Denman] By An Old Cambridge University Oarsman, A FEW HINTS ON ROWING (Cambridge: Deighton, 1892) 11 pp.

87. A.T. Alcock, HINTS ON COXING (Cambridge: Spalding, 1895) 21 pp.

89. F.E. Prothero and W.A. Clark (eds), A NEW OARSMAN'S GUIDE (London: . George Philip, 1896) vi, 302 pp.


90. R.C. Lehmann, ROWING (London: Innes, 1897) xii, 346 pp.



91. J. Jeffrey (Straw Hat), ROWING (London: Dean [1897]) 29 pp.
Later ed (1898) 62 pp.?

93. G.T. Rees, THE ROWING CLUB DIRECTORY OF GREAT BRITAIN (London: Lock to Lock, 1898) 142 pp.

95. R.P.P. Rowe and C.M. Pitman, ROWING (London: Longmans, 1898) xvi, 351 pp.
2nd imp (1903) xvi, 352 pp.

96. D.H. McLean and W.H. Grenfell, ROWING, PUNTING AND PUNTS (London: Lawrence, 1898) 95 pp.

97. S. Crossley, PLEASURE AND LEISURE BOATING (London: Innes, 1899) viii, 256 pp.

99. W.E. Sherwood, OXFORD ROWING (Oxford and London: Henry Frowde, 1900) xviii, 406 pp.

100. W. Peacock, THE STORY OF THE INTER-UNIVERSITY BOAT RACE (London: Grant Richards, 1900) x, 148 pp.
2nd ed (1901) x, 153 pp,  3rd ed (1902) x, 156 pp.

101. R.H. Forster, DOWN BY THE RIVER (Cambridge: E. Johnson, 1901) viii, 113 pp.

102. R.C. Lehmann, ANNI FUGACES (London: John Lane, 1901) viii, 136 pp.


103. E.J. Giannini, ROWING (New York: American Sports Publications, 1901)



107. H.T. Steward, The RECORDS OF HENLEY ROYAL REGATTA (London: Grant Richards, 1903) viii, 557 pp.

108. T.K. Selwyn, ETON IN 1829-1830 (London: John Murray, 1903) xl, 312 pp.

110. S. Fairbairn, JESUS COLLEGE BOAT CLUB ROWING NOTES; W.J. Farrell and W.J. Sanderson, INSTRUCTIONS TO COXSWAINS (Cambridge: Palmer [1904]) 24 pp.
2nd ed (London: G. Street, 1919)

111. G. Rixon, ROWING AND SCULLING (London: George Bell, 1904) viii, 95 pp.



112. W.G. East, ROWING AND SCULLING (London: C. Arthur Pearson, 1904) 128 pp.




115. S. Crowther, ROWING [and Ruhl, TRACK ATHLETICS] (New York and London: Macmillan, 1905) viii, 449 pp.



116. ___, SOUVENIR OF THE HARVARD AND CAMBRIDGE BOAT RACE (London: Souvenir Publishing, 1906) 51 pp.

117. C.W. Hutchinson, SPEEDS OF STROKE AT DURHAM REGATTA (Durham: Chronicle, 1906) 4 pp.

118. A.W. Stevens, PRACTICAL ROWING (New York: Little, 1906)

121. W.W. Rouse Ball, A HISTORY OF THE FIRST TRINITY BOAT CLUB (Cambridge: Bowes, 1908) vi, 190 pp.

122. F. Beddington, BOATING AND BOAT-RACING (London: British Sports, 1908) 135 pp.

123. R.C. Lehmann, THE COMPLETE OARSMAN (London: Methuen, [1908]) xviii, 390 pp.
2nd ed (1919) xviii, 278 pp.

124. T.A. Cook and G. Nickalls, THOMAS DOGGETT, DECEASED (London: Constable, 1908) xiv, 156 pp.

127. C.M. Pitman, THE RECORD OF THE UNIVERSITY BOAT RACE, 1829-1909 (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1909) 348 pp.


128. W.B. Woodgate, REMINISCENCES OF AN OLD SPORTSMAN (London: E. Nash, 1909) viii, 499 pp.



129. E. Warre, ON THE GRAMMAR OF ROWING (Oxford: Clarendon, 1909) 62 pp.

131. H.C. Wace, BRASENOSE ROWING (Oxford: Historical Society [Monograph XIV], 1909) 188 pp.

133. ___, RECORD OF THE ROWING CLUB OF S. PHILIP AND S. JAMES, OXFORD, 1899-1909 (Oxford: Blackwell, 1910) 63 pp.

142. Lord Desborough, THE STORY OF THE OAR [reprint Field] (London: Horace Cox, [1910]) 28 pp.

144. T.A. Cook (ed.), RACING AT HENLEY (London: Horace Cox, 1911) lviii, 209 pp.
2nd ed. (1913) lviii, 305 pp.

145. Sir H.C. Maxwell Lyte, A HISTORY OF ETON COLLEGE, 1440-1910. 4th ed. (London: Macmillan, 1911)

146. F.C. Kempson, OARSMANSHIP AND TRAINING (London: Horace Cox, 1911) viii, 46 pp.

147. ___, THE OARSMAN'S MANUAL (New York: Dick, 1912)



148. J. Wellman and W.B. Peet, THE STORY OF THE HARVARD-YALE RACE, 1852-1912 (New York: Harper, 1912)



150. H.J. Wehman, ROWING AND SCULLING (Broklyn: Wehman, [ante 1912])

151. A.J.S. Lewis, THE HISTORY OF ROWING IN TABLE BAY (London and Capetown: Whitehead, 1912) viii, 86 pp.

154. Lord Desborough (arr.), FIFTY YEARS OF SPORT [2 vols] (London: Walter Southwood, 1913) x, 332 pp.

156. R.S. de Havilland, ELEMENTS OF ROWING (Eton College: Spottiswoode, 1913) 77 pp.

157. A. Crump, A HISTORY OF AMATEUR ROWING ON THE RIVER LEE (London: Gresham, 1913) 63 pp.

159. R.S. Dana, TWO LESSONS FROM THE UNIVERSITY [HARVARD-YALE] BOAT RACE OF 1914 [reprint Harvard Graduates' Magazine] (1914) 8 pp.

166. Sir T. Cook, HENLEY RACES (Oxford (University Press) and London (Humphrey Milford), 1919) xxvi, 519 pp.

167. T.A. Cook, ROWING AT HENLEY (Oxford (University Press) and London (Humphrey Milford), 1919) xxii, 182 pp.

168. L.C. Smith (ed.), ANNALS OF PUBLIC SCHOOL ROWING (Oxford: B.H. Blackwell, [1919]) xii, 168 pp.


169. J. Lang, THE VICTORIAN OARSMAN (Melbourne: A.H.Massina, 1919) ii, 341 pp.



171. H.G. Gold, THE COMMON SENSE OF COACHING (London: Field, 1920) 20 pp.

174. [S. Fairbairn], ROWING NOTES [1920] 8 pp.

175. L.G. Applebee, THE VESTA ROWING CLUB, 1870-1920 (London: C. McAllan, [1920]) 86 pp.

176. [C.U.B.C.], NOTES ON COXING (Cambridge: University Press, 1921) 32 pp.

177. An Old Blue [Sir T. Cook], COACHING FOR YOUNG CREWS (London: Field, 1921) 25 pp.

178. The Hon. J.W.H. Fremantle, NOTES ON FIRST CLASS ROWING (Cambridge: Fabb, [1921]) 21 pp.

181. C.R.L. Fletcher, LIFE OF EDMOND WARRE [1837-1920] (London: John Murray, 1922) xii, 323 pp.

186. A.A. Macfarlane-Grieve (ed), A HISTORY OF DURHAM ROWING (Newcastle-on-Tyne: Andrew Reid,    1922) xx, 250 pp.

187. G.T. Atchison and G.C. Brown, THE HISTORY OF THE CHRIST'S COLLEGE BOAT CLUB (Cambridge: W.P. Spalding, 1922) xii, 272 pp.

188. W.B. Coventry, THE RACING EIGHT (Cambridge: W. Heffer, 1922) vi, 39 pp.

194. R.C. Puckering and E. Dawber, A SHORT HISTORY OF THE GAINSBOROUGH ROWING CLUB (Gloucester: John Bellows, 1923) 55 pp.

195. R.A. Glendon and R.J. Glendon, ROWING (Philadelphia and London: J. Lippincott, 1923) 240 pp.


196. C. Van P. Young, COURTNEY AND CORNELL ROWING (Ithaca: Cornell, 1923)



197. G.S. Mumford, TWENTY HARVARD CREWS (Harvard: University Press, 1923) viii, 154 pp.

201. J.C. Tinne, INTERNATIONAL TRAINING IN 1869 (London: John Murray, 1924)

205. A. Eggar, ROWING (Rangoon: British Burma Press, [1925?])


206. G.C. Bourne, A TEXT-BOOK OF OARSMANSHIP (Oxford: University Press, 1925) xvi, 376 pp.


215. R.H. Forster (et al), THE HISTORY OF THE LADY MARGARET BOAT CLUB, ST. JOHN'S COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE, 1825-1926 (Cambridge: Johnian Society, 1926) xxii, 312 pp.

216. S. Fairbairn, ROWING NOTES ([Newport]: Isle of Wight County Press, 1926) 12 pp.
Rev ed (Cambridge: Spalding, [1929]) 12 pp.

217. S. Fairbairn, ROWING NOTES (London: Mills & Boon, 1926) xxxii, 96 pp.
2nd ed (1928) xliv, 96 pp.


218. FAIRBAIRN'S ROWING ANNUAL, SEASON 1927-1928 (London:Sporting Handbooks, [1927]) 254 pp.



220. R.E. Swartwout, RHYMES OF THE RIVER (Cambridge: W. Heffer, 1927) viii, 74 pp.

221. _____, RULES AND REGULATIONS OF THE CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY BOAT CLUB (Cambridge: W.P. Spalding, 1927) 16 pp.

223. H.C. Scott (ed.), THE HISTORY OF THE CAIUS BOAT CLUB, 1827-1927 (Cambridge: University Press, 1927) xvi, 184 pp.

227. Stroke, ROWING AND SCULLING (London and New York: Frederick Warne, 1928) 64 pp.

228. W.B. Coventry, THE MECHANICS OF ROWING (London and New York: Spon, 1928) viii, 70 pp.

229. F. Brittain and H.B. Playford, THE JESUS COLLEGE BOAT CLUB, CAMBRIDGE (Cambridge:W. Heffer, 1928) xvi, 298 pp.


230. S. Fairbairn [F. Brittain (arr.)], SLOWLY FORWARD (Cambridge: W. Heffer, 1929) vi, 42 pp.



231. W.W. Hill, ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF BOAT RACING (London: Albion, 1929) 96 pp.

232. G.C.Drinkwater and T.R.B. Sanders (comp.), THE UNIVERSITY BOAT RACE OFFICIAL CENTENARY HISTORY (London: Cassell, 1929) xii, 200 pp.
Commemorative ed (1929) xii, 244 pp.

233. ___, EXTRACT OF NOTES ON OARSMANSHIP (Cambridge: W.P. Spalding, [1929]) 12 pp.

236. H. Bond, HISTORY OF THE TRINITY HALL BOAT CLUB (Cambridge: W. Heffer, 1930)

237. [HISTORY OF ROWING AT ETON] (Eton College: Spottiswoode)

238. L. Euler, DE ACTIONE REMORUM (St.Petersburg: 1749) __ [English translation] A COMPLETE THEORY OF THE CONSTRUCTION AND PROPERTIES OF VESSELS (London: Sewell, 1790) pp. 262-281

239. T. Hughes, MEMOIR OF A BROTHER (London: Macmillan, 1872) xvi, 178 pp.
2nd ed (1873)


Notes and Scope of this List

Prior to 1930, most rowing books focused on the "how" of rowing, or on chronological records of the races, results, boatings and histories of numerous schools, boat clubs and regattas, but few put forth research into, or critical analysis of, the evolution of the sport as a whole, or the singular place of rowing in the history of modern sport. While Brittain's motivation for publishing this invaluable little volume is unknown to me, this collector of rowing literature was most likely frequently consulted by the Oxbridge authors of the histories of the Oxford-Cambridge boat race that were published to commemorate its centenary in 1929. This would have underscored both the lack of any such reference source, and the value thereof for future rowing writers and historians.

Whatever Brittain's motivation for compiling this work, the publication of OAR, SCULL AND RUDDER, with an introduction by Steve Fairbairn, marked the first appearance in print of a rowing work by a scholar that was largely academic in origin or nature and of value principally to students of rowing and rowing history or collectors of rowing literature. Itself now a highly desirable rowing collectible, the bibliography contains listings for 240 "independent works," largely books, pamphlets and off-prints, and 703 articles from periodicals. 151 of the independent works and most of the articles are in English. Most of the entries on works have annotations. The annotated entries had likely been seen by Brittain, and many of those publications were probably in his collection (much of which was bequeathed by Brittain to the library of the Stewards of Henley Royal Regatta).

Between its contents, its scope and its arrangement, OAR, SCULL AND RUDDER provides fascinating material for study. Brittain pioneered the compilation of a rowing bibliography; no one before him had undertaken the task. He did not limit himself to works in English, but gathered publications on the subject in any language. He did not confine his interest to books and pamphlets, but embarked on the extraordinary task of collecting periodical articles as well. In his attempt to cover the subject comprehensively, Brittain chose to include references to rowing publications that he had not seen (which he duly noted by removing the period after the entry number, which convention is repeated below). He also chose an unusual approach to the arrangement of his entries, ordering them by date of publication, which offers a chronological, historical perspective on the evolution and development of rowing writings, rather than adopting the more common bibliographical format of arrangement by author's last names in alphabetical sequence.

While his selections concentrate on the sport of rowing (there is little on other rowing subjects such as watermen, lightermen, oared fishing craft, whaleboats, lifeboats, naval gigs, processional barges, oared fighting and trading craft of the ancients or transoceanic crossings), Brittain found place for studies on the longevity of oarsmen, guides to rivers, travel stories, school histories, and science readers. Interestingly, while he happily listed volumes of verse with rowing content, the don did not include rowing-related prose fiction, passing up a host of juveniles, including the important American favorite by 'Oliver Optic,' THE BOAT CLUB, and such classics as Hughes' TOM BROWN AT OXFORD, Jerome's THREE MEN IN A BOAT, Grahame's THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS ("simply messing about in boats"), and Beerbohm's ZULEIKA DOBSON.

As an enthusiast, a scholar and a collector, the first rowing bibliographer understood the difficulty of finding these scarce materials. In compiling his list, Brittain did not constrain himself to including only major works or verified references. Brittain appreciated that ephemera would constitute an important body of documentation for this subject matter, and he included printed materials which in some cases ran just a few pages, or received very limited distribution, or was cheaply produced for a popular market with transient interests.

There were also rowing sources in the penumbra of Brittain's ken, and, eschewing the academic's typical skittishness about citing materials not held and read, the scholar included items about which he had only partial data, perhaps from publication announcements, advertisements, book reviews or mentions in the press (which, in the case of announcements not followed by the issuance of a text, may have permanently deposited a red herring in the net of his bibliography). Thus, in addition to displaying to his readers those works that he had been able to personally sight and confirm, Brittain pointed the uncertain way to others, all to the end of offering the most useful and comprehensive bibliography possible.

Brittain would probably be surprised that his pioneering effort has never been updated. Over seventy years have passed since the publication of OAR, SCULL AND RUDDER, which was reprinted in Robert Herrick's RED TOP (Harvard 1948). While Dodd's HISTORY OF WORLD ROWING (1984) contains a list of reference sources of global sweep, no rowing bibliography has been published as an independent work since Brittain's seminal oeuvre, which, for all its shortcomings, remains an invaluable guide to rowing literature prior to 1930. Two more recent bibliographies of differing scope that list, albeit not in one place, many rowing sources, are Ernest Toy's magisterial ADVENTURERS AFLOAT - A Nautical Bibliography (Metuchen, N.J. and London: The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1988. Two volumes, xii, 1-476, 477-1179 pp.), and Ben Cohen's somewhat less ambitious THE THAMES 1580-1980 - A GENERAL BIBLIOGRAPHY (London: Ben Cohen, 1985. [ix,] 335 pp.).

Brittain's work has long been out of print, and copies of the original are relatively scarce in the rare book trade. The above extracts of his compilation are provided to facilitate the research and study of rowing history, and the collecting of rowing literature, and to perpetuate recognition of Frederick Brittain's groundbreaking contribution to sports history.

Each of these entries has been extracted (in summary form) from the independent works section of OAR, SCULL AND RUDDER (the numbers reflect Brittain's ordering), and has been limited to works published in English. While the majority of Brittain's entries, especially for items that he had himself seen, are bibliographically detailed, most of the descriptions included above are substantially shortened from the original text (e.g., all annotations and measurements, as well as portions of some longer titles and publication data, have been excluded). Some few errors made by Brittain are preserved as originally published.

These listings represent only a small portion of the greater world of writings on rowing. Not only have a great many works relating to rowing been published since 1930, many pre-1930 rowing-related works were either not known to Brittain, were considered by him not to fall within his scope of subject matter, or were purposely excluded by him. Further, finding these pre-1930 sources noted by Brittain can be quite challenging. Some of these works were published in relatively large editions when rowing was one of the headline sports in the public eye, but many were sold as cheap and ephemeral items that are today rare precisely because they were not deemed valuable when bought, and were easily neglected and discarded. In over three decades of research and collecting, I have not seen a number of the listed works in any public or private collection.

Any reader seriously interested in rowing history and literature should refer to a complete copy of OAR, SCULL AND RUDDER. The above list is just an appetizer, a partial checklist of Brittainia, but it offers at least two useful rewards: a glimpse of the rich variety of sport rowing-related independent works published prior to 1930, and an insight into the breadth of scope accorded this topic by one of the pioneer scholars of the sport.

Please credit this site for any use of this material. No substantial portion of this compilation may be copied or disseminated without the prior consent of Tom Weil. Copyright TEW 2002 Ė all rights reserved.


[Home]   [Time Line]   [Equipment]   [U.S. Team]   [Image Gallery]   [Links]

Friends of Rowing History     

 Please contact us with your suggestions - Starboard Oar

Copyright 2001 - Friends of Rowing History