Victorian Vices: The Demon Drink and the Temperance Movement

Ref: C2346524

According to some social commentators, living conditions in parts of Victorian cities were so bad that it was little wonder if people 'take to drink and fall into sin' - but alcohol and the behaviour to which it could give rise was seen as one of the great social evils of the Victorian period. It also illustrated the dilemmas posed by attempts to deal with vice of any kind. Should alcohol be regulated, or prohibited altogether – or should the government follow its usual path of non-interference with the liberty of the individual and the free market? Should it be left instead to the efforts of temperance campaigners and other reformers? In exploring these questions, this lecture will look at such aspects as legal regulation and restriction; the temperance movement; medical arguments for and against alcohol; and attempts to divert the masses from drink through ‘rational recreations’.

Course aim

To explain why alcohol was regarded as a 'social evil' during the Victorian period, identify attempts to address the problems it was seen as causing, and assess their success.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Identify some of the 'social evils' for which alcohol was held responsible during the Victorian period. .
  • Explain why the sale and consumption of alcohol was so little regulated by government.
  • Assess the success of attempts to divert the labouring classes from drink through providing 'rational recreations'.
  • Know where to access additional sources for independent study.

How will I be taught?

What kind of feedback can I expect?

What else do I need to know?

There is nothing you need to know or bring to the lecture.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

What can I do next?

View full course information sheet

Victorian Vices: The Demon Drink and the Temperance Movement


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you enrol. Please check the details below to ensure you meet the basic eligibility critiera:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2021
  • You declare that the address you provide is correct and that you will provide evidence of this and your eligibility to live and work in the UK
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

Not sure or have further questions? Contact

Visa Credit payments supported by RBS WorldPay Visa Debit payments supported by RBS WorldPay Visa Electron payments supported by RBS WorldPay Mastercard payments supported by RBS WorldPay Maestro payments supported by RBS WorldPay JCB payments supported by RBS WorldPay Solo payments supported by RBS WorldPay
RBS WorldPay Payments Processing