Wednesday Jun 01, 2022

Eugen Sandow (with Ruby Hann)

Happy Pride! We invited Ruby Hann, who completed her MA in History in 2020 and her MSc in History in 2021, both at the University of Edinburgh, to talk about Eugen Sandow, the bodybuilder who spread the cult of muscle around the world. Her research is focused on masculinity, sexuality, and the body in early twentieth century Britain. Ruby is not currently in academia, but she still occasionally writes, lectures, and attends conferences. You can follow her Twitter @RubyVolunteers to find her work. 

Our book is available at along with tour dates in the US and the UK!


Budd, M. A. The Sculpture Machine: Physical Culture and Body Politics in the Age of Empire. New York: New York University Press, 1997.

Chapman, David. Sandow the Magnificent: Eugen Sandow and the Beginnings of Bodybuilding. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994.

Dyer, Richard. White: Twentieth Anniversary Edition, 2nd ed. London: Routledge, 2017.

Waller, David. The Perfect Man: The Muscular Life and Times of Eugen Sandow, Victorian Strongman. Brighton: Victorian Secrets Limited, 2011.

Waugh, Thomas. Hard to Imagine: gay male eroticism in photography and film from their beginnings to Stonewall. New York: Columbia University Press, 1996.

Brauer, Fae. ‘Virilizing and Valorizing Homoeroticism: Eugen Sandow’s Queering of Body Cultures Before and After the Wilde Trials’, Visual Culture in Britain 18:1 (2017), 35–67.

Conrad, Sebastian. ‘Globalizing the Beautiful Body: Eugen Sandow, Bodybuilding, and the Ideal of Muscular Manliness at the Turn of the Twentieth Century’, Journal of World History 32:1 (2021), 95–125.

Elledge, Jim. ‘Eugen Sandow’s gift to gay men’, The Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide 18:4 (2011).

Mullins, Greg. ‘‘Nudes, Prudes, and Pigmies: The Desirability of Disavowal in "Physical Culture"’, Discourse 15:1 (1992), 27–48.

Snow, K. Mitchell. ‘Does this fig leaf make me look gay? Strongmen, statue posing and physique photography’, Early Popular Visual Culture 17:2 (2019), 135–155.

Watt, Carey A. ‘Cultural Exchange, Appropriation and Physical Culture: Strongman Eugen Sandow in Colonial India, 1904–1905’, The International Journal of the History of Sport 33:16 (2016), 1921–1942.

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