The Don's List
Extracts from and notes
on Frederick Brittain's
OAR, SCULL AND RUDDER
(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
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.  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
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
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.
(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, ) 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,  61 pp.
19. [editors], THE ROWING ALMANACK
[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.
[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, ) 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), ) 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,
32. ___, ROWING, SAILING, AND CANOEING
(London: Dean, ) 64 pp.
33. H. Cholmondeley Pennell, THE OXFORD
AND CAMBRIDGE BOAT RACE (London: Hotten, ) 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, ) 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:
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:
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.
51. M.S. Glynn, THE VICTORIAN ROWING
REGISTER AND OARSMAN'S COMPANION (Melbourne, 1878)
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
54. ___, ROWING, STEERING, AND COACHING
ON THE CAM (Cambridge 1881)
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, ) 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
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
[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, )
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 ) 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 ) 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, ) 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, ) 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, ) 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 
175. L.G. Applebee, THE VESTA ROWING
CLUB, 1870-1920 (London: C. McAllan, ) 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, ) 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, ) 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, ) 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,
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
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, ) 12 pp.
236. H. Bond, HISTORY OF THE TRINITY
HALL BOAT CLUB (Cambridge: W. Heffer, 1930)
237. [HISTORY OF ROWING AT ETON] (Eton
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)
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
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
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
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
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
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.