This drawing gives us a rare glimpse inside a busy coffee-house in late 17th-century London.
What is shown in this picture?
Men sit in the candlelight, sharing long wooden benches, drinking coffee, smoking clay pipes and discussing the newspapers. One servant is taking a bundle of long pipes from a large chest, while another pours dishes of coffee for customers. A maid with a high lace headdress serves behind the bar, and a man enjoys the heat of the fire where the coffeepots are warming. The walls are hung with various notices and paintings, including an advertisement for something stronger than coffee ‒ ‘Right Irish Usquebah’ or whiskey.
What is the date of the drawing?
The drawing is labelled ‘A.S.1668’, but this is inaccurate; the costumes seem to date from around 1690‒1700.
- Article by:
- Chloe Wigston Smith
- Rise of the novel, Politeness, sensibility and sentimentalism, Satire and humour, Gender and sexuality
Frances Burney’s Evelina unveils the dizzying and dangerous social whirl of Georgian London, where reputations and marriages are there to be made and broken. Dr Chloe Wigston Smith investigates Burney’s critique of fashion culture and the demands it places on women, in a novel that prizes feminine resilience.
- Article by:
- Matthew White
- Politics and religion, Politeness, sensibility and sentimentalism, Language and ideas
Matthew White explains how the coffee-house came to occupy a central place in 17th and 18th-century English culture and commerce, offering an alternative to rowdy pubs and more formal places of business and politics.
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