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As a social reformer, Arthur Sherwell had many interests. After several years as a Wesleyan Methodist preacher, he became an expert on urban poverty and the ally of feminist reformers. He saw the solution to poverty in Britain as tied to the future of the Empire, specifically self-governing colonies such as Australia. He spent much of his life seeking to answer the question of working-class drinking in big cities. Most activists in the temperance movement thought the answer was prohibition in the form of local plebiscites. Rejecting prohibition, Sherwell and his ally Joseph Rowntree urged instead what they called disinterested management, that is, public houses run without the profit motive and open to reforms that would limit alcohol consumption. To lobby for disinterested management, the Temperance Legislation League was founded in 1905. Sherwell was its honorary secretary. He was a prolific writer. He also was a Liberal politician who served in Parliament from 1906 to 1918. Sherwell destroyed his political career by his fierce opposition to wartime military conscription.


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  • Alternative title
    • Arthur Sherwell (1863-1942)

  • Journal title
    • International Social Science Review

  • Volume
    • 98

  • Issue
    • 2

  • Date submitted

    20 July 2022

  • Additional information
    • Acknowledgements:

      David M. Fahey is professor of history emeritus, Miami University (Ohio). His most recent books are Temperance Societies in Late Victorian and Edwardian England (2020) and The Politics of Drink in England, from Gladstone to Lloyd George (2022).