Bearded Patriarchs

Jacob Middleton investigates the eccentric set of prejudices against shaving that led Victorian men to adorn their chins with a lush growth of facial hair.

Friedrich Engels

In 1847 the writer William Henry Henslowe published a pamphlet warning the men of Britain of a danger they faced every day of their lives. This ‘fatal fashion’, as he described it, was the cause of the rising rates of murder and suicide, was linked with the growing immorality of mid-Victorian Britain, and was instrumental in spreading disease. Somewhat surprisingly, this social danger was a behaviour thought innocuous by most of his contemporaries – none other than the practice of shaving.

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