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Gin Lane, 1751. Artist: William Hogarth

Gin Lane, 1751. Artist: William Hogarth



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Gin Lane, 1751. Artist: William Hogarth

Gin Lane, 1751.The scene is the St Giles slums. A child falls to its death from the arms of its drunk mother who sits with ulcerated legs. A skeletal figure holds an empty glass. Goods are being pawned in order to buy gin, a baby is being fed with gin, a corpse is put into a coffin in the background.The pawnbroker, distiller and undertaker are the only well-off and successful people in the neighbourhood. Third of four states of plate. This print was published in support of a campaign directed against gin drinking among Londons poor. Consumption of cheap spirits by the poor had soared in the early eighteenth century, with dire social consequences. Gin inspires violence and careless inebriation. Addiction to spirits leads to negligence, poverty and death

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Media ID 15166944

© London Metropolitan Archives (City of London) / Heritage-Images

Abuse Addiction Alcohol Bleak Danger Dangerous Despair Desperation Drunk Drunkenness Fallen Falling Hogarth Issue Oblivion Oblivious Pawnbroker Slum Undertaker W Hogarth William Hogarth City Of Westminster Distiller Down And Out Metaphor


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> Europe > United Kingdom > England > London > Boroughs > City of Westminster

> Europe > United Kingdom > England > London > Slums

> Europe > United Kingdom > England > London > Towns > Welling


EDITORS COMMENTS
Gin Lane, 1751: A Grim Depiction of Desperation and Addiction in 18th Century London". This haunting print by William Hogarth, titled "Gin Lane, 1751" offers a stark glimpse into the dire social consequences of gin consumption among London's poor. Set in the impoverished St Giles slums, the scene is filled with despair and hopelessness. In the foreground, a tragic child plummets to its death from the arms of its intoxicated mother, whose ulcerated legs reveal her deteriorating health. Nearby stands a skeletal figure clutching an empty glass—a chilling representation of addiction's grip on this community. The image further reveals the depths to which these individuals have fallen. Goods are pawned to fuel their insatiable thirst for gin; even babies are fed with this dangerous spirit. In the background, a corpse is being placed into a coffin—an ominous reminder that such destructive habits lead only to ruin. Amidst this bleakness, three figures stand out as symbols of success: the pawnbroker who profits from others' misery, the distiller who fuels their addiction, and the undertaker who capitalizes on their deaths. Hogarth created this print as part of a campaign against gin drinking among London's poor—a powerful metaphorical critique aimed at raising awareness about negligence, poverty, and death caused by alcohol abuse. It serves as both a warning against demon drink and an indictment of society's failure to address these issues effectively. Today it remains an enduring testament to how addiction can ravage lives if left unchecked—an important historical artifact that compels us to reflect on our own societal challenges surrounding substance abuse.

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