• CLOSED
  • FREE
  • Chelsea, London
  • CLOSED
  • FREE
  • Chelsea, London

'A pill to cure an earthquake': Prostitution in Britain in the First World War

Soldiers marching through Birmingham train station, 1914
Tara Finn explores illegal prostitution and its social ramifications in First World War Britain.

The regulated brothels which operated in France during the First World War are well known from soldiers' personal accounts, histories and official sources. Much less familiar is what was happening back home. 

From the outbreak of war, there was a surge in prostitution in Britain. An unprecedented number of women entered the trade, flocking around military camps and train stations.

Attempts by the British government and the Army to regulate prostitution and prevent the spread of venereal disease were motivated by different factors. And decisions were sometimes the result of an imperfect compromise between government, police, the Army and local authorities. 

But how could such a situation be made to work effectively?

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