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Drink and the Victorians: A History of the British Temperance Movement

This collection consists of over 1200 items, published roughly between 1800 and 1980. It contains 845 pamphlets, 110 journals and periodicals, and 325 books.

The Books are cataloged separately in Searchworks. In the left column on this page, there is a link to a list of the book, with brief title and imprint, and with call numbers.

Pamphlets, journals and periodicals are cataloged under a single record (call number : 71-03501), a link to which is on the left, along with a separate link to the overall guide of this collection, which includes all items in a numeric order. Refer to these numbers when requesting pamphlets, journals and periodicals, while using the general call number (71-03501).


By Brian Harrison Fellow and Tutor in Modern History and Politics, Corpus Christi College, Oxford.

Anyone keen to understand the Victorians can hardly do better than devour Joseph Livesey's Staunch Teetotaler (458) or J.G. Shaw's Life of William Gregson. Temperance Advocate (1072), for temperance history offers the clue to a moralistic society that did not yet separate religion from politics. Its key unlocks understanding of an increasingly prosperous society groping towards the idea that the poor need not always be with us. It gets us inside an urban society pioneering its response to the social problems accompanying growing affluence and increased leisure.
Nineteenth-century Britain turned against cruelty and violence of all kinds, repudiating ill-treatment of women, criminals, lunatics, animals, children and slaves. Energy and hope were marshalled for the humanitarian crusade in ways that now seem unfamiliar. If, for instance, master ill-treated slave, abolition of slavery was the answer; if the farmer neglected his cattle, then he must be educated or punished into kindness; if woman turned to prostitution, she must be "reclaimed"; and if the drunkard beat his wife, drunkenness must be frontally attacked. This highly moralistic diagnosis of social problems gave far less attention to environmental pressures and structural problems within the economy than would now be fashionable….read full text.


Curator for American and British Literature
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