Photograph: 1844, Men drinking ale

1844 People drinking ale. Octavius Hill James Ballantine & Dr George Bell

Life in the Long 19th Century

Photograph taken in 1844 by David Octavius Hill (b. 1802 – 1870)

The photographer is shown on the right, keeping his subjects relaxed – James Ballantine (left) and Dr George Bell (middle). Bell was one of the commissioners of the Poor Law (Scotland) Act 1845 and author of Day and Night in the Wynds of Edinburgh (See Wellcome Library – online). His drinking companion, Ballantine, was a writer and stained-glass artist. The men are drinking beer from “ale flutes”.

At first glance at the photograph it is remarkable how little seems to have changed. To put the photo in context there must have been plenty to discuss, given that 1844 was the year the following were published:


  • Honoré de Balzac – Les Paysans
  • Charles Dickens
    • The Chimes
    • Martin Chuzzlewit (serial publication concludes)
  • Benjamin Disraeli – Coningsby
  • Alexandre Dumas
    • The Count of Monte Cristo
    • The Three Musketeers
  • William Makepeace Thackeray – The Luck of Barry Lyndon
  • Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna – The Wrongs of Women


  • Frederick Marryat – Settlers in Canada


  • Elizabeth Barrett Browning – Poems


  • Robert Chambers (published anonymously) – Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation
  • Friedrich Engels – Condition of the Working Classes in England
  • Joseph Ennemoser – Geschichte der Magie (History of Magic)
  • Søren Kierkegaard – The Concept of Anxiety
  • Karl Marx – On the Jewish Question
  • John Stuart Mill – Essays on Some Unsettled Questions of Political Economy
  • Henry Fox Talbot – The Pencil of Nature (first book illustrated with photographs from a camera)

BELOW: Life in the Long Nineteenth Century on Pinterest (Via The Long Victorian)



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: