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The Victorian Barmaid and the British Press: How She Was Defined and Represented in Late-Nineteenth-Century Media, and How She Utilized the Press to Fight for Better Pay and Working Conditions

Boughey, Allan



This article explores how British print media in the late-nineteenth century portrayed and represented the Victorian barmaid, utilizing newspapers, magazines, periodicals, and other printed materials as its primary sources. The barmaid was a product of the Industrial Revolution, but she polarized society. By the later years of the Victorian period, advocates of temperance and prohibition had begun to associate the barmaid with the UK’s growing drink and prostitution problems, and sought to ban her. But she also had her supporters, particularly among social reformers and other liberal thinkers, who were more concerned with her working conditions and pay. By exploring a range of documentary sources from the period, this study examines the role and social standing of the British fin de siècle barmaid. In so doing, it also seeks to show how print journalism developed through the nineteenth century in Britain and observes that much of the content presented at this time was often observational rather than what we would now term well-sourced, objective reporting. This research also reenforces the belief that newspapers provide highly detailed documentary records of the times in which they are produced.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Apr 2, 2019
Publication Date Mar 29, 2019
Deposit Date Oct 9, 2019
Journal Journalism History
Print ISSN 0094-7679
Electronic ISSN 2641-2071
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 45
Issue 1
Pages 77-93
Keywords Barmaids, newspapers, Victorian, women’s rights
Public URL
Publisher URL

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