This book portrays British chess life in the nineteenth century through biographical studies of ten players who shaped the modern game. From Captain Evans, inventor of the famous gambit, to Isidor Gunsberg, England's first challenger for the world championship, personal narratives are blended with game annotations to reassess players' achievements and character. The author has combined deep reading in primary sources with genealogical research to reveal new facts and correct previous misunderstandings. Major chapters on Howard Staunton and William Steinitz, in particular, highlight the tensions between Englishmen and immigrants, amateurs and professionals. The contrasting long careers of Henry Bird and Joseph Blackburne provide a thread of continuity. The lives of several other important figures in Victorian chess are also presented. More than 160 games (with diagrams), several annotated in detail, and 50 photographs and line drawings are included. Appendices provide career records for all ten; there are extensive notes, a bibliography and indexes.