Cover image for Daily life in 18th-century England
Daily life in 18th-century England
Olsen, Kirstin.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
xiv, 395 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DA485 .O47 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating
DA485 .O47 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
DA485 .O47 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
DA485 .O47 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
DA485 .O47 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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The eighteenth century was dirtier, more dangerous and more intimate with the physical functions of life than our own. This excellent study of England during this era provides a wealth of information for students and interested readers who want to discover the everyday details of living. What does it really mean to read the riot act? Why does Yankee Doodle call his hat macaroni? What's the scoop on pig's face, boiled puddings, powdered wigs, farthings, face patches, and footmen? Find out in this introduction to the work of gouty squires, scurvy sailors, hanged apprentices, and underpaid maids-of-all work.

Illuminating the food, habits, language, behavior, sex lives, childhoods, health care, housing, and attitudes of 18th-century English people, this exploration of the time and place also provides the reader with such detailed information as how people fought, courted, drank, married, traveled, worshipped, shopped, and dressed. Twenty chapters describe and illustrate the century's politics, class structure, family structure, urban and rural environments, architecture and much more. Also offered are recipes, so the reader can recreate an eighteenth-century meal, song lyrics, children's rhymes, rules for eighteenth-century games, an extensive list of salaries for different occupations, the text of the original Riot Act, reproduced cosmetics recipes, and other concrete examples of daily life and language that make the century tangible.

Author Notes

KIRSTIN OLSEN is the author of several books including Chronology of Women's History (Greenwood, 1994).

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

New titles in this useful and fascinating series.

Choice Review

This update to the 1999 first edition provides a wide, readable overview of broad areas of daily life in Georgian England, ranging from earning, spending, and gathering to learning, interacting, and coupling. Independent scholar Olsen has substantially revised and reworked the text, although some chapters will be familiar. Among notable useful additions are the inclusion of illustrative primary documents in each section (notable for their relevance and judicious brevity), bibliographies of well-chosen further reading at the end of each section, and a unified chronology--an improvement over the chapter-by-chapter time lines in the previous edition. The scope of the book is specifically and purposefully restricted to England and the chronological 18th century. Great matters of state and politics are also tangential to a work whose stated purpose is to investigate how people "eat, sleep, dress, drink, marry, give birth, work, swear, play, worship, sicken, and recover or die." In this study of daily life, the author does an admirably inclusive job in considering not just the established classes but also the lives of ordinary folk in cities and rural areas and social, religious, and political outsiders. Summing Up: Highly recommended. High school through undergraduate students; general readers. --Matthew Todd, Northern Virginia Community College

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introductionp. xi
1. "A Nation of Prime Ministers": Politicsp. 1
2. "Not Created Equal": Class and Racep. 13
3. "Twenty Pounds Will Marry Me": The Familyp. 31
4. "The Supreme City": Londonp. 57
5. "They Were, Once, a Kind of Barbarians": The Provincesp. 71
6. "Up to My Knees in Brick and Mortar": Housingp. 81
7. Cork Rumps and Cocked Hats: Clothingp. 95
8. Days, Weeks, Months, and Years: The Passage of Timep. 111
9. "Do What You're Bidden": Work and Wagesp. 121
10. "What Joy Was Mine!": Entertainmentp. 147
11. "The Turnpike Roads of the Kingdom": Transportation and Communicationp. 171
12. "The Main Business of the Life of Man": The Economyp. 187
13. "Robbers, Burglars, etc.": Law and Orderp. 205
14. "A Progeny of Learning": Educationp. 221
15. "The Roast Beef of Old England": Food and Drinkp. 231
16. "I Love a Mob": Behaviorp. 249
17. "One Foot Within the Grave": Health Care and Hygienep. 261
18. Religionp. 279
19. Orreries, Dephlogisticated Air, and Spinning Jennies: Science and Technologyp. 293
Notesp. 307
Glossaryp. 349
Bibliographyp. 353
Indexp. 357