Many of us think of the ill-behaved celebrity and the tabloid splash as modern inventions, but the antics of footballers and soap stars are as nothing when set alongside the hell-raising of the 18th century celebs.
The Gin Lane Gazette is stuffed with true stories of boozy MPs who settled their political differences with duels in Hyde Park; peers of the realm who sat the unburied corpses of their cherished mistresses at their dinner tables; entertainers who rode horses standing upright in the saddle, while wearing a mask of bees; and famous courtesans who ate 1,000-guinea banknotes stuffed into sandwiches, simply to make a point. Before it was dashed from their lips by the Victorian party-poopers, our Georgian forebears drank deep from the cup of life.
Adrian Teal is a cartoonist and caricaturist for QI, and national press titles such as the Sunday Telegraph, the Sun, the Scotsman, Scotland on Sunday, the Daily Mail, History Today, TimeOut and the Times Educational Supplement.
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