Latest Issue

Monarch of muscle

Victorian strongman Eugen Sandow was thought to possess the perfect male body. Like Oscar Wilde, he is essential to understanding modern manhood

By David Waller   December 2011

On the evening of Tuesday October 29, 1889, at around 10 o’clock, a young man wearing a monocle and evening suit jumped onto the stage of the Royal Aquarium Music Hall in Westminster. There was a moment of astonishment among the crowd, followed almost immediately by catcalls of derision, as the feeble-looking youngster with flaxen hair and girlish face declared in a voice barely audible against the hubbub, that he intended to prove himself the strongest man in the world.

The man was an unknown Prussian by the name of Eugen Sandow (1867-1925). Having ripped off nearly all of his…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect