This book is an introduction to the history of alcoholic drink in England from the end of the Middle Ages to the present day. Treating the subject thematically, it covers who drank, what they drank, how much, who produced and sold drink, the places where it was enjoyed and the meanings which drinking had for people. It also looks at the varied opposition to drinking and the ways in which it has been regulated and policed.
As a social and cultural history, it examines the place of drink in society and how social developments have affected its history and what it meant to individuals and groups as a cultural practice. Covering an extended period in time, this book takes in the important changes brought about by the Reformation and the processes of industrialization and urbanization. This volume also focuses on drink in relation to class and gender and the importance of global developments, along with the significance of regional and local difference. Whilst a work of history, it draws upon the insights of a range of other disciplines which have together advanced our understanding of alcohol. The focus is England, but it acknowledges the importance of comparison with the experience of other countries in furthering our understanding of England’s particular experience.
This book argues for the centrality of drink in English society throughout the period under consideration, whilst emphasizing the ways in which its use, abuse and how they have been experienced and perceived have changed at different historical moments. It is the first scholarly work which covers the history of drink in England in all its aspects over such an extended period of time. Written in a lively and approachable style, this book is suitable for those who study social and cultural history, as well as those with an interest in the history of drink in England.
'This interesting and ambitious book explores the English reputation for drinking over the past 500 years in order to answer basic questions about levels of alcohol consumption and the types of alcohol the English consume. More importantly, historian Jennings (Univ. of Bradford, UK) explores changing patterns of English drinking over the past five centuries by drawing on a variety of sources ranging from government statistics, medical reports, and ecclesiastical treatises to popular literature. Jennings also creatively incorporates alcohol studies research to produce a theoretically informed book that sheds new light on both the aberrant and normative functions of alcohol in English society. He skillfully examines how the social, symbolic, and ritual contexts of early English drinking practices shaped later attitudes toward alcohol. The role of alcohol at weddings, christenings, and funerals, for example, reveals deeper insights into the tensions that exist between continuity and change in English society. The emphasis on class and the gendered structures of pubs, alehouses, and other drinking spaces is also provocative and refreshing.'
--F. H. Smith, College of William and Mary
CHOICE Highly recommended. All levels/libraries.
'Overall, this is a valuable addition to drink history literature providing a much-needed introduction. For the alcohol scholar, A History of Drink and the English, provides a synthesis of a broad range of interdisciplinary works on alcohol studies, from Brian Harrison’s seminal Drink and the Victorians to Carpenter’s anthropological perspectives in Constructive Drinking (3), evaluated and commented upon by one of the most knowledgeable and measured scholars in the area.'
-- Pam Lock, University of Bristol
'A History of Drink and the English, 1500-2000 provides the reader with an excellent overview of the topic… Jennings should be commended for producing such an engaging narrative and his decision to organise the book thematically rather than chronologically is particularly effective. Statistics are used in a judicious manner, bolstering the arguments, but never overwhelming the text. For an introduction to the subject of drink and the English there is currently no better study and it is hoped that it will inspire readers to look deeper into the many aspects of alcohol covered by the book.'
-- Tim Holt, Brewery History
Introduction 1. Drinking 2. Producers and Sellers 3. Places and Spaces 4. Meanings 5. Drunks 6. Anti-Drink 7. Regulation Conclusions