Essential Information

Type Talks and tours
Date and Times Tuesday 16 April 2024 | 5.15pm - 6.30pm
Prices Free

The well-known nineteenth-century sea shanty ‘What Shall We Do With the Drunken Sailor?’ reveals the common perception of seamen in British popular culture during this time. The Jolly Jack Tar had long been caricatured as a drinker, often portrayed as being ‘three sheets to the wind’ (i.e. drunk). A campaign by Christian temperance activists to sober up the Royal Navy began in earnest in the 1870s but decades earlier temperance periodicals had already begun to re-construct the sailor image.

Committing to a temperance lifestyle in the Royal Navy was a challenging undertaking not least because sailors were entitled to a daily allowance of rum and beer. Yet the need for a sober naval force was seen as increasingly important as Britain sought to maintain and expand its colonial interests.

Join Deborah Canavan for a free online talk on the changing profile of the sailor during the nineteenth century, illustrating how early temperance magazines (around 1820 to 1860) played a critical role in transforming the British sailor’s identity from the boozy bluejacket to a respected representative of heroic manhood.

What role did the temperance movement play in professionalising the Royal Navy in the nineteenth century? Why was the Royal Navy initially ambivalent towards the aims of temperance? Why were temperance magazines so important to the temperance movement? What made the ‘Band of Hope Review’ and the ‘British Workman’ temperance magazines so popular amongst men who worked at sea?

Joining the event

This event is free and open to everyone, and will take place via Zoom. There is no need to book; please click on the button below shortly before 5.00pm on the day. 

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