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234 × 156 mm
288 pages
85 illustrations
16 Mar 2020
  • £20.00

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Eating the Empire Food and Society in Eighteenth-Century Britain Troy Bickham

When students gathered in a London coffeehouse and smoked tobacco, Yorkshire women sipped sugar-infused tea or a Glasgow family ate a bowl of Indian curry, were they aware of the mechanisms of imperial rule and trade that made such goods readily available?

In Eating the Empire, Troy Bickham unfolds the extraordinary role that food played in shaping Britain during the ‘long’ eighteenth century (c. 1660–1837), when coffee, tea and sugar went from rare luxuries to some of the most ubiquitous commodities in Britain, reaching even the poorest and remotest of households. Bickham reveals how the trade in the empire’s edibles underpinned the emerging consumer economy, fomenting the rise of modern retailing, visual advertising and consumer credit, and, via taxes, financed the military and civil bureaucracy that secured, governed and spread the empire.

Troy Bickham is Professor of History at Texas A&M University. He is the author of many books including The Weight of Vengeance (2012) and Savages within the Empire (2005).


Part I: Encountering, Acquiring and Peddling
1 The Empire’s Bounty
2 The New British Consumer
3 Advertising and Imperialism

Part II: Defining, Reproducing and Debating
4 Defining a British Cuisine
5 An Edible Map of Mankind
6 The Politics of Food


Selected Sources
Photo Acknowledgements