Jun 18, 2024 | arts and humanities

About this episode

In 18th century Britain, the old tradition of deep bowing and curtseying as a form of greeting slowly evolved into a brief touch of the cap or head (for men), or quick bob of the body (for women). Simultaneously, a new form of urban greeting was emerging: the handshake. How and why did the handshake gain such popularity, becoming our most standard greeting today? This phenomenon is explored in a new essay published in the journal Urban History and authored by Professor Penelope Corfield of London University. More

Original Article Reference

This audio is a summary of ‘Egalitarian Greetings: The social spread of the handshake in urbanising Britain, 1700-1850’ in Urban History (2024) (doi:10.1017/S0963926821000274) with contributing material from ‘Fleeting gestures and changing styles of greeting: researching daily life in British towns in the long eighteenth century’ in Urban History (2022).


For further information, you can connect with Professor Penelope J Corfield at You can also visit her website at and her Georgian Witnesses website at



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