Gender, Class, and Public Drinking in Britain During the First World War

  • David W. Gutzke


During World War I respectable upper working-class and lower middle-class women, who had shunned public drinking for almost a century, began patronizing the pub in unprecedented numbers. In threatening the pre-war gender status quo, they provoked intense opposition from authorities who seemed committed to a counterattack once the war ended. Attracting such women's custom was a major incentive for brewers espousing the reform of the public house, ensuring that a wartime trend became a post-war tradition. Yet, unreformed slum pubs, unregenerate regional subcultures, unco-operative magistrates, and unsympathetic feminists ail prevented the attainment of full equality in public drinking in the inter-war era.