Brits may not always be very sociable, but they have learned to be clubbable when they choose. They even embraced conviviality three hundred years ago. For sure, the eighteenth century was a prime time for social organizations of all kinds: if Paris had its high-minded salons, London had plenty of groups that ranged from the polite assemblies of scientists and bluestockings to bibulous fraternities looking for an excuse to make merry. The habit soon spread from England, Scotland, and Ireland to places like Annapolis, Maryland. This was a small town with scarcely enough inhabitants to raise a posse, let alone get together a regular quorum of like-minded hedonists. It had been renamed in honor of the future Queen Anne (how could the citizens have guessed that she would one day figure in an Oscar-winning movie as part of a lesbian love triangle?).

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