Dutch Courage & Mothers’ Ruin: The Gin Craze
by Dr Richard Barnett

Date: Tuesday 3 December 2019

We’ll take a walk down Hogarth’s ‘Gin Lane’, exploring the realities behind this notorious episode of Enlightenment history.

Dutch Courage & Mothers’ Ruin: The Gin Craze

William Hogarth, ‘Gin Lane’ (1751)

For more than two centuries William Hogarth’s ‘Gin Lane’ has offered a potent vision of the history of gin – Scorch-Gut, Kill-Me-Quick, Strip-Me-Naked, a cheap, fiery spirit fuelling poverty and annihilating the fabric of urban society. In this talk we’ll take a walk down Gin Lane, to reveal the cultural and political realities behind this notorious episode. We’ll find a microcosm of the fault-lines in English society at the beginning of the Enlightenment; we’ll encounter pamphleteers railing against gin, politicians legislating against it, bootleggers smuggling it; and we’ll witness the creation of the greatest work of satirical art in history.

Dr Richard Barnett is a writer, teacher and broadcaster on the history of science and medicine. He studied medicine in London before becoming a historian, and has taught at Cambridge, UCL, and other leading institutions for more than a decade. His first book, Medical London: City of Diseases: City of Cures, was a Book of the Week on BBC Radio 4, and his The Sick Rose, an international bestseller, was described in the Guardian as 'superbly lucid and erudite'. Seahouses, his award-winning first poetry collection, came out in 2015. He writes for the Lancet and the London Review of Books, and has presented TV & radio documentaries for broadcasters around the world. Find him online at

Photograph of speaker by ktgphotography

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