William Hogarth, Beer Street and Gin Lane

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Beer Street


Gin Lane

are arguably Hogarth’s two best known and certainly his most overtly political prints. He designed and published them as part of a campaign in support of the government’s Gin Act, eventually passed in the summer of 1751. Gin, an abbreviation of ‘geneva’, was first distilled in Holland in the early 17th century, where it was originally produced as a medicine and sold in chemists’ shops to treat stomach complaints. Distilled from grain, and flavoured with the juice of juniper berries, it became especially popular in England after the arrival of William and Mary from the Netherlands in 1688. Cheap gin, without the juniper flavouring, was readily available in the first half of the eighteenth century. It had a very high alcohol proof affording quicker and…

2133 words

Citation: Gordon, Ian. "Beer Street and Gin Lane". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 18 September 2003 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=6398, accessed 21 May 2024.]

6398 Beer Street and Gin Lane 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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