Dirty secrets, dirty laundry: The functions of secrecy in discourses of Victorian women’s drinking

Jennifer Wallis
(St Anne’s College, University of Oxford)

In the late nineteenth-century British press, the ‘lady secret drinker’ was an enigmatic, if disturbing, figure. Fashionable but foolish, she was used to illustrate the risks of broadening access to alcohol via changing licensing laws, as well as woman’s supposedly inherent ‘deceptive’ potential. Yet, at the same time, the shame surrounding women’s drinking precluded any open discussion of genuine alcohol problems or their treatment – a silence that allowed the abuses of some private treatment facilities to go unchecked.

Wednesday, 25th November 2015, 12.45 pm – 2.00 pm
Venue: LG8, Keppel Street Building