1 x 30 minute episode
MPEG-1 Layer 3
The Gin Craze
In Our Time
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the craze for gin in Britain in the mid 18th Century and the attempts to control it. With the arrival of William of Orange, it became an act of loyalty to drink Protestant, Dutch gin rather than Catholic brandy, and changes in tariffs made everyday beer less affordable. Within a short time, production increased and large sections of the population that had rarely or never drunk spirits before were consuming two pints of gin a week. As Hogarth indicated in his print 'Beer Street and Gin Lane' (1751) in support of the Gin Act, the damage was severe, and addiction to gin was blamed for much of the crime in cities such as London.
Research Fellow in History at the Victoria and Albert Museum and University of Sheffield
Professor of 18th century literature at Royal Holloway, University of London
Senior Lecturer in English at the University of York
Producer: Simon Tillotson.