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The Social History of Smoking

George Apperson

Book Overview: 

This work tells the history of smoking in England from the social point of view. Thus it does not deal with the history of tobacco growing or tobacco related manufacture, but is rather the story of how smoking has fitted in with the fashions and customs throughout the ages, and the changes in the attitude of society towards smoking.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .It makes him a theefe," he continued "for he will steale it from his father; a good fellow, for he will give the smoake to a beggar; a niggard, for he will not part with his box to an Emperor!" A character in one of Chapman's plays, 1606, calls tobacco "the gentleman's saint and the soldier's idol." A little-known [56]bard of 1630—Barten Holiday—wrote a poem of eight stanzas with chorus to each in praise of tobacco, in which he showed with a touch of burlesque that the herb was a musician, a lawyer, a physician, a traveller, a critic, an ignis fatuus, and a whiffler, i.e. a braggart. The first verse may suffice as a specimen:

Tobacco's a musician,
And in a pipe delighteth,
It descends in a close
Through the organ of the nose
With a relish that inviteth.

These are merely a few examples of both the praise and the abuse which were lavished upon tobacco at this early stage in the history of smoking. It would be easy . . . Read More

Community Reviews

Over the last few years the world has experienced a social upheaval that I, for one, thought it both unique and unsettling. I started smoking in the mid-sixties and at the time the practice wasn't as openly condemned as it is today. The Social History of Smoking by George Latimer Apperson traces...more