The comical Wheels of Chance was written in 1896 at the height of the golden age of the bicycle, when practical and affordable bicycles led to profound social shifts in England. Suddenly people of modest means could travel greater distances for work or even for pleasure, without the limitations of rail schedules, weakening England's rigid class structure and strengthening the movement towards the liberation of women. In the novel, the poorly-paid draper's assistant Mr. Hoopdriver sets out on a cycling holiday, and awkwardly encounters a pretty young woman cycling alone and wearing bloomers, an shocking image in its time and one that summed up the new freedom, liberation and exhilaration of the bicycle.
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The Floating Press Ltd.
April 30, 2009
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