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ROUGH SPIRITS AND HIGH SOCIETY: The Culture of Drink
Bibliophile price: £7.00
As we are about to have a merry visit from the many Spirits at Christmas, here is a book dedicated to the beautiful friendship between humans and their beer, wine, gin, whisky, coffee and tea. Alcohol is by far the oldest of these three drugs with archaeological evidence of its production discovered in China, the residue of fermented rice, honey, grapes and hawthorn berries found in clay vessels dating 7000-6600 BC, several thousand years before tea came to dominate the region. By the Dynastic Period in Egypt around 3000 BC, 30 units of alcohol daily probably went some way towards keeping the slave population compliant. The gods ruled over Aztec drinking culture and Plato wrote out his own la for drinking in an ideal society. Decorated with beautiful woodcuts, medieval illuminated illustrations from manuscripts such as the pilgrims from the Canterbury Tales, illustrated business cards for inns from the 1790s, some with mischievous ladies, gentlemen holding court in Ludgate Hill, the importance of mail coaches and communications between inns and staging posts, there is also a spectacular double page colour jolly illustration of the miseries of travelling by Thomas Rowlandson, 1807, with people scrabbling onto a coach, smoking and drinking and with much bawdy behaviour. This special British Library publication shows the surprising and often subversive ways in which drinking has changed the world, and society has struggled to control the places where people drink. Postal services, modern communication, the first insurance companies were also created in coffee houses, and gin palaces prompted moral outrage. The Suffragette Movement found its birthplace in tea shops which allowed women to meet across all social classes, as did the Georgian and Regency era with its bawdy and Molly-houses. An unashamed and unabashed picture book packed with ephemera from the British Library and organised into six sections: Inn Communication, Tavern Society, The Ale House of the People, Caffeinated Trading, Gin Lane to Gin Palace and Tea and Suffrage. Index, colour posters and artworks and woodcuts, 176 tall and elegant pages.
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