Surprisingly Sexy Victorians: 'Sex and Sexuality in Victorian Britain' by Violet Fenn


Remember the Victorians? Who were meant to be all prim and proper, sitting on their 'excuse me' and wearing the 'southern necessity', choosing between white and dark meat? Yes, those. It's curious to see a whole era of English history inventing their own code language in order to avoid using the words that might be inappropriate in polite society. Of course, that was just one half. The other half lived in conditions far inferior, which makes me think of Victorian Britain as the era of stark contrasts. It wasn't just the chiaroscuro palette of the black-and-white photographs, or the difference between the rich and the poor - it was also what the Victorians seemed like and what they hid: the surface and the depth. Of course, the dichotomy of surface/ depth can be applied to many categories of life: e.g. clothing - the corsets look fabulous, but the its bones could and did penetrate the lungs and dislocate the internal organs if too tight. In this book the category of Victorian living is the desire and its suppression, i.e. sex and everything to do with it. The myriad of consequences talked about in detail, weaved into a very engaging narrative by the author Violet Fenn.


This book doesn't shy away from the really gruesome end of the spectrum of what life was like in Victorian Britain, as far as the childbirth, sex, masturbation, prostitution et al were concerned. Everyone has heard of Jack the Ripper murders, but not everyone knows about the act that was aimed at bettering and protecting the lives of women but actually cost the lives of many gay men. That was a real eye-opener for me. The many examples of lives ruined and lost because of laws, ignorance, cruelty and lack of empathy is staggering....This book reminds me how far we've come and how far we still need to go...

"Psycho Ladies Cycle" was probably my favourite bit....




On the cover you see Lilith (by John Collier) - the first wife of Adam, created from the same clay as her husband.

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All photographs taken by Natalie Lomako Photography, unless otherwise stated

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