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Women drinking out in Britain since the early twentieth century$
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David W. Gutzke

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780719052644

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719052644.001.0001

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From the late Victorian boozer to the interwar improved public house

From the late Victorian boozer to the interwar improved public house

(p.14) 1 From the late Victorian boozer to the interwar improved public house
Women drinking out in Britain since the early twentieth century

David W. Gutzke

Manchester University Press

Class, religion and gender critically shaped late Victorian drinking patterns. Though some scholars have argued that female drinking habits began altering in the 1890s, the evidence is thin and limited to West London. Drinking premises lacked respectability and often toilets, deterring females from patronizing them. So did the persisting stigma linking masculine pubs and trawling prostitutes. Women’s drinking habits fundamentally changed during World War, with more middle-class (and to a lesser extent working-class) females frequenting pubic houses. Anxious to preserve this expanding clientele, progressive brewers introduced an entirely new type of public houses, with the lounge as gender neutral space, radically reconfiguring interiors featuring tables and chairs, and offering food. As environmentalists, Progressives had much faith in the ability of salubrious surroundings uplifting customers’ behaviour. Introducing significant numbers of women into drinking premises promised to discourage excessive drinking and drunkenness. By 1939, public drinking had expanded considerably: about two-fifths of all women patronized pubs and to a lesser extent beerhouses.

Keywords:   Boozers, Lounge, Masculinity, Respectability, Improved public houses, Progressivism, Social engineering, Revolution in women’s drinking habits, Prostitution

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