Sunday, 28 November 2010

Double Measures

Moral fears about drink have often exercised British newspapers, something that soon became apparent when I began compiling material for Double Measures: The Guardian Book of Drinking. From concerns in the 1860s about drunken children, the dangers of absinthe, the very act of drinking itself during WW1 to current debates about 24-hour licensing, the paper has not been afraid to warn of the dangers of drinking alcohol. That said, the editorial lectures are leavened by plenty of celebratory pieces about all things grape and grain.

Many of the articles were accompanied by cartoons. As Drawing Drunks, a new exhibition at the
Cartoon Museum demonstrates, artists and cartoonists have long played out the dilemmas over drink in the country's press. The Today Programme recently reported on the exhibition and a number of cartoons can be seen here (unfortunately the museum's site is a little out of date). One of the most famous is William Hogarth's Gin Lane.

Read Martin Rowson's piece about the love-hate relationship between editors and cartoonists here.

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