Re-framing drink and the Victorians : the consumption of alcohol in Britain 1869-1914

  • Thora Hands

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Abstract

This thesis surveys drinking in Britain between the Licensing Act of 1869 and the wartime regulations imposed on alcohol production and consumption after 1914. This was a period marked by the expansion of the drink industry and by increasingly restrictive licensing laws. Politics and commerce co-existed with moral and medical concerns about drunkenness and combined, these factors pushed alcohol consumers into the public spotlight. This thesis contributes to the existing historiography on alcohol in Britain by placing alcohol consumers at the heart of the project. Through an analysis of public and private records, medical texts and sociological studies, it investigates the reasons why Victorians and Edwardians consumed alcohol in the ways that they did and explores the ideas about alcohol that circulated in the period. This study shows that the Victorians and Edwardians had many reasons for purchasing and consuming alcoholic substances and these were driven by broader social, cultural, medical and commercial factors. Although drunkenness may have been the most visible consequence of alcohol consumption, it was not the only type of drinking behaviour. Alcohol played an important social role in the everyday lives of Victorians and Edwardians where its consumption held many different meanings. By exploring the social life of alcohol this study offers new perspectives on the history of alcohol in Britain.
Date of Award1 Jan 2016
LanguageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SponsorsWellcome Trust & University of Strathclyde
SupervisorJames Mills (Supervisor) & Matthew Smith (Supervisor)

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