A History of Drinking

The Scottish Pub since 1700

Anthony Cooke

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A social history of Scottish drinking and drinking establishments.

What did Samuel Johnson, James Boswell, Dorothy Wordsworth, James Hogg and Robert Southey have in common? They all toured Scotland and left accounts of their experiences in Scottish inns, ale houses, taverns and hotels. Similarly, poets and writers from Robert Burns and Walter Scott to Ian Rankin and Irvine Welsh have left vivid descriptions of the pleasures and pains of Scottish drinking places. Pubs also provided public spaces for occupational groups to meet, for commercial transactions, for literary and cultural activities and for everyday life and work rituals such as births, marriages and deaths and events linked with the agricultural year.

These and other historical issues such as temperance, together with contemporary issues, like the liberalisation of licensing laws and the changing nature of Scottish pubs, are discussed in this fascinating book. The book is bought up to the present day by a case study of present day licensees, based on interviews with a range of licensees across Scotland, looking at their experience of the trade and how it has changed in their working lives.

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List of tables
List of illustrations
List of abbreviations
Chapter 1 - Introduction
Chapter 2 - ‘Bousing at the nappy’ – Scottish pubs and changing drinking patterns, 1700-1790
Chapter 3 - ‘Politeness and agreeable conviviality’ – Scottish Pubs and Increasing Social Segregation, 1790-1830
Chapter 4 - ‘People’s Palaces’ – Urbanisation, temperance and responses, 1830-1914
Chapter 5 - ‘Serious Attacks on the Trade’ - The Two World Wars and the Inter-War Period, 1914-1945
Chapter 6 - ‘A place of rules and rituals’ – Austerity and Regulation, Liberalisation and Change, 1945 to the Present
Appendix 1
Appendix 2
Appendix 3
Provides a much needed examination of the Scottish pub, a subject that has been neglected for far too long. Primary sources, especially accounts by those that visited pubs over the 300 year period covered by the study, offer interesting and informative insights. Furthermore, the author’s analysis is backed up by a good use of statistics and the book is well illustrated throughout. What one takes away after reading this book is how important the pub is for the author and not just on an intellectual level, his genuine affection for this Scottish institution is obvious.'
Tim Holt, Brewery History
Despite the difficult relationship between Scotland and alcohol, Scottish historians have largely ignored what has gone on in pubs, Anthony Cooke has put this right with a splendid book that seeks to relate pubs, drinking and temperance to the main themes of modern Scottish history. The book displays a profound knowledge of its subject and the experience of reading it is as satisfying as consuming a pint of cask-conditioned IPA!'
Ewen Cameron, University of Edinburgh
‘[A History of Drinking] appeals both as an academic study and a lively book of considerable general interest and enjoyment.’
Ian Donnachie, The Open University, Innes Review
The real strength is in the wonderful detail brought to light. Discussion of gender balance, or the importance of taverns for visiting sailors involved in the Irish trade, highlight the diversity of roles played by pubs as a ‘place’ of history. Examples of workers smuggling liquor into mills, or of the adulteration of drink with methylated spirits during the Great Depression, bring sobering insight into experiences of Scotland’s past. Cooke has not only fulfilled his intention to demonstrate the socio-economic importance of the Scottish pub; he has also shown how fruitful such work could be for earlier periods.
Aaron Allen, University of Edinburgh, Journal of Scottish HIstorical Studies
Cooke has done a great deal to show us the diversity of the place over three centuries. He has laboured hard, using a huge diversity of archival sources, and has read widely in literature and local history to show the ways in which the Scottish pub distilled so much of our culture in one room. He fixes details on the economics and demographics as well as the society of the bar; he gives us prices and valuations, numbers of pubs per inhabitant, and builds a well-written account of the commerce, sociability and drinking communities of the country. The narrative is pacy, bowling the reader through the story with acumen and insight.
Callum Brown, Reviews in History
Magnificent…it is a real joy to find such an erudite exposition on Scottish pubs, drinking and temperance in their proper historical context…there are some fascinating insights into how others saw Scottish drinking places at different times in history.'
Allan McLean, Scottish Local History, Issue 93, Winter 2015-16
‘Given the substantial place drink has in our culture and history, it is astonishing that no-one before now has written a book devoted to it. In his introduction to A History of Drinking: The Scottish Pub Since 1700 (EUP, £80/£19.99), Anthony Cooke reflects that "many Scottish historians have exercised a kind of self-censorship" on the subject. It is a lamentable oversight, especially given the colour of the material to draw on, and Cooke describes ale houses, pubs, hostelries, shabeens, lounge bars, howffs, landlords and ‘luckies’ with a verve to match the stories he finds…an enthralling and oddly sobering piece of work.’
Rosemary Goring, Scottish Review of Books
‘Cooke's foundational work here will, I contend, prove to serve as a go-to manual of background, fact, motivation, and direction for both Teetotalers and Drink Traders for many years to come. Moreover, this labour of love will prove a touchstone for economists, anthropologists, historians, and other scholars within the growing field of Drink Studies. Aside from being thoroughly indexed, Cooke offers an archivist's dream with a nearly-exhaustive bibliography of his sources and those for further research. The Court of Session could only benefit during its current MUP deliberations from analysing and imbibing all that Cooke offers here.’
Dr Charles Snodgrass, The Bottle Imp
Mr Cooke’s book compiles more than three centuries of facts and stories from Scottish drinking culture. His work gives readers an insight into subjects like the Temperance movement, a group of campaigners who called for alcohol to be prohibited, and also shines a light on the history of some of the nation’s best-loved pubs.'
An exhaustive insight into the social history of Scottish drinking and drinking establishments. Reading it has been likened to drinking a pint of cask-conditioned beer – many readers will identify with that!'
The Scots Magazine
Anthony Cooke is a retired Senior Lecturer in Continuing Education at Dundee University. His most recent book was The Rise and Fall of the Scottish Cotton Industry, 1778-1914, (Manchester University Press, 2010) and he has contributed many articles to journals such as the Journal of Scottish Historical Studies. He was also an editor on the five volume series, Modern Scottish History: 1707 to the Present, (Tuckwell Press, East Linton, 1998).From the APF:I am a retired Senior Lecturer in Continuing Education from Dundee University and was Historical Consultant to Historic Scotland on the restoration of Stanley Mills, Perthshire. I have published books and articles on the Scottish cotton industry, on Glasgow West India merchants and on popular enlightenment. I co-edited the five volume series Modern Scottish History. 1707 to the Present (1998), published for the Dundee University/Open University distance learning course.

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