The Invention of the Lottery Fantasy

The Invention of the Lottery Fantasy

– A Cultural, Transnational, and Transmedial History of European Lotteries 

‘The Lottery’

'The Lottery' by William Hogarth, etching and engraving, 1724. 
'The Lottery' by William Hogarth, etching and engraving, 1724
NPG D21369. © National Portrait Gallery, London

About the project

About the project

The project examines the cultural, political, and financial impact of what we call the lottery fantasy, the idea of a sudden, life-changing wealth through the big prize in the lottery. We will examine the lottery fantasy as a cultural figure as it circulated between countries, languages, and different medial forms in Europe, both in the eighteenth century and today.

State-sanctioned lottery institutions are important agents in European economy, through the financing of sports, culture, and charitable organisations. At the same time, their position as a public body for the organisation of gambling has repeatedly been subject for debate, from the birth of the state-sanctioned lotteries in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries until today. The debate has been centred around political and moral issues connected to gambling addiction, social inequality and the relationship between state and citizen. The project will study the role played by the lottery fantasy in this political and financial development, through its invention and circulation in and from the eighteenth century.

A group of international researchers  will map and analyse the lottery fantasy in a large array of cultural and medial forms of expression: newspapers, periodicals, almanacs, visual art, literature and theatre. By exploring how the lottery fantasy was transmitted, criticised, parodied and played with in European culture in the eighteenth century, we aim to produce new knowledge of the impact of state-sanctioned lotteries in the emergence of the modern European state, as well as of the role played by art and culture in modern political economy and in the relationship between state and citizen.

Project members

Project Members

Meet the Project Members


The project is funded by The Research Council of Norway for the period of 2022–2024.