In Bed with the Georgians (Paperback)
Sex, Scandal and Satire in the 18th Century
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The secret world of 18th Century England’s highly lucrative sex trade is the subject of the new ITV drama series Harlots
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In Bed with the Georgians provides a fascinating insight into life under the bed-clothes in Georgian England, where the Madams and pimps were able to thrive in the eighteenth century like never before. It looks at high-class seraglios as well as the brothels, jelly-houses and bagnios which flourished openly, especially in the area around Covent Garden. It looks at courtesans from the highest echelons of society, the kept women, the sex-workers in 'houses of pleasure', down through to the street walkers and common whores. It shows the way that the sex scene was portrayed in contemporary letters and press reports, and focuses on royal scandals, aristocratic shenanigans and immoral behaviour. The book looks at the role of Grub Street, the growth of celebrity status, and the way courtesans occupied a demi-monde of great popularity, with their enormous wealth and conspicuous spending. In particular it looks at the way that caricaturists, such as Gillray, Rowlandson, Newton, and Cruikshank, pilloried the rich and famous for their peccadilloes, satirizing their wild excesses, and by so doing helped inform the general public of what their 'social superiors' were getting up to.
This book is lavishly illustrated in colour and contains a useful glossary of many aspects of the world of the sex trade in London two and a half centuries ago.
Author article 'The king is dead' as featured byJane Austen's Regency World, January/February 2020
As seen inJane Austen's Regency World, July/August 2018
Author article: 'Man and machine' as featured byJane Austen's Regency World, May/June 2018
Shocking hilarious and massively entertaining.Jane Austen's Regency World, November/December 2017 – reviewed by Joceline Bury
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As featured on...Amazon, Michelle McMenamin
As featured on...Georgian Gentleman
As featured on...Lil's Vintage Blog, YT
As featured inDevon Life Magazine
An intriguing piece of social historyXpat News, Friday, March 17, 2017
Despite, or perhaps even because of, its sometimes sleazy subject-matter, In Bed with the Georgians is an entertaining book. Briskly written, and anecdotal in content, it moves quickly from subject to subject, and is sufficiently illustrated to complement the text. Being able to see the prints and portraits that Rendell refers to adds to its interest.Penniless Press
Read the full review here.
For many books detailing the passion of kings and paramours, it's easy to be soft in the portrayal of their love lives. The ambiguity that follows, though, can almost mask true deviance by simply not delving deeper. It's refreshing, then, that In Bed With the Georgians is more explicit, providing an authenticity that can often go amiss.History of Royals, February 2017
With graphic descriptions and plenty of satirical imagery referenced throughout, In Bed With The Georgians explores the celebrity courtesans of the era alongside the scandals in royal court, common lingo, the impact of newspapers, brothels, lower-class sex workers, sex crimes of the 18th century and more. Almost nothing escapes the sharp tongue of the author, with his sarcastic commentary on the ignorance and hedonism of Georgian men. His text, though humorous at times, focuses foremost on delivering a wide-ranging perspective for modern readers.
I have always been a fan of the Regency - I loved reading Georgette Heyer's amazing books about Regency Beauz and Belles when I was a teenager; Mike Rendell's gorgeous book reveals another side to the Georgians - their sexual excesses and couplings, and although it's a side to the period I'd rather not let interfere with my love of Georgette's romances, it is nevertheless a fascinating insight into what went on outside of marriage and courtship. Terrific!Books Monthly, January 2017 – reviewed by Paul Norman
As you'd expect from the title this book provides a general and comprehensive review of all matters sexual in Georgian times. It makes for fascinating and eye-opening reading. The Georgian period saw the popularisation of publications and print work. Some of our current national newspapers such as The Times have their origins in this period. The public loved gossip and scandal and printers thrived to feed this new market which had not been there previously. Monarchs and politicians were not exempt from ridicule by caricature or the written word. Most of it deserved. Some resorted to the courts to seek remedy and some succeeded in winning libel cases. But the public thirst for gossip and scandal had to be satiated, and publishers flourished to feed that market. As the author, Mike Rendell, quite correctly points out, ridicule in the popular press of the day was often the only form of justice meted out to the aristocracy during the Georgian period. The Upper Class were often a law unto themselves: even escaping punishment for crimes as serious as rape and murder, if you had friends in powerful places i.e. The Hanoverian Dynasty.NetGalley, reviewed by Graham McGhie
The Hanoverians (and their hangers on) were an unloved, and at times reviled, dynasty appointed to the throne more for their Protestantism than any other reason. Their lives of debauchery are fully unveiled in this book. I was left wondering as to why the dynasty had survived. The truth is that it would not have, were it not for the accession of Queen Victoria and the establishment realising that a growing more assertive and powerful middle class would not wear these excesses any longer (at least in public).
The demand for gossip amongst the chattering class also influenced the growing middle class's fashion trends. The gap between rich and poor was vast as was treatment under the law. Women were treated as second class citizens, although it is refreshing to read about a few who came out ahead. But rarely.
Many a fortune made was lost and it wasn't unknown for the well to do to end up in Debtors Prisons due to their main avarice: gambling be it on the stock market or on horses, bets or cards.
The book is certainly comprehensive, it seems to dissect the lives of just about everyone who mixed in upper class social circles in the 18th Century. Although I found it a bit repetitive eventually, I noticed it didn't stop me reading on. The version of the book I was reading was in eBook form and I found references to Images reproduced at the end of the book inaccessible and so a little annoying. This will not be a problem if you're reading the paper edition.
By the time I reached the end of the book I was left with a perception of the 18th Century as a period which makes today's gossip news and magazines look decidedly tame. The book presents a comprehensive review of the period before Queen Victoria which was to usher in a era with a strong moral code built on the firm foundation of hypocrisy. In Bed with the Georgians is an informative, well researched and interesting read.
All in all a good read.NetGalley, reviewed by Krissy Malott
The idea for this book was interesting and so was the division of the chapters.NetGalley, reviewed by Jessica Gerdes
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This was quite an interesting little book. I didn't realise how much I already knew about the topic until reading this, but it was still fun to read. Rendell goes in depth with stories of the greatest courtesans of the day, the biggest scandals, and the exploits of the rich. His writing style is never dry and stays engaging, although sometimes remembering people mentioned in previous chapters was problematic given their short introductions.NetGalley, reviewed by K P
There were several mentions of how the Victoria era was a direct reaction of the excess of the Georgian one, which is a topic I would love to explore more. I had never really stopped to think about how weird it is that courtesans were viewed with such awe, since this is very similar to our own time period. The Victorian's certainly didn't view "fallen women" with such indulgence and envy, nor did they have as much patience with the follies of their royalty as they did with Prinny.
I don't know that I learned a whole lot from this book, but that's not saying anything against the content. Rendell did a fabulous job of putting together this reference point of people, places, and scandals from this time period, as well as all of the wonderful images to accompany the stories. Someone who didn't know as much about the subject would enjoy it even more.
A fascinating insight to the private lives of the Georgians.NetGalley, reviewed by Eileen Hall
This comprehensive catalogue shows that there was a thriving sex industry from the lowly sex worker to the pseudo respectable courtesans. Many kept by the rich and famous, who in their turn became notoriously rich and famous also.
An intriguing dip - into book with wonderful illustrations.
This is a fascinating read. It has a comprehensive list of well known figures of the time and biographical information about them and their sexual interactions in society. It also has terms that were popular in that time. Some of them I had to read a few times just to make sure I was reading it right. When I think of the Georgian Britain, Architecture is the first thing to pop in my head and the last thing I think of is their torrid sex lives. I think more people would read history if it encompassed the entire human experience, which of course would include their sex lives. We tend to think of the people of history in a very pristine light. Writing their little folded letters with beautiful script and romantic wax seals. Telling stories about how they folded their laundry perfectly or some other mundane episode of life, not I had a go at the lady so and so and it was great! This book vividly portrays Georgian society and how they moved though it. Loved it!NetGalley, reviewed by Michelle McMenamin
Oh Georgians. What a bawdy naughty bunch it turns out you were. Before the prudishness and censure of the Victorian age, the English were fun, in an adventurously promiscuous sort of way. In Bed with Georgians is all about that, the brothels, the whores, the pimps, the cheaters, the lovers, the seducers, the rapists, the polygamists (and all the hilarious euphemisms of the time for the aforementioned terms) populate the pages of a well researched and terrifically amusing book. With great humor and a sort of bemused affection for its lovely and distinctly unlovely subjects, Rendell navigates the era so well, it makes for a terrific tour of a bygone age. There are a lot of individual accounts and plenty of art from the time (although on Kindle the ARC version had most of it in the book altogether instead of accommodating its respective chapters) and it was just a lot of fun to read. From famous to infamous, some names recognizable today, most lost to history, but apparently not forgotten, because of their ludicrous and wild love lives these Georgians are definitely worth reading about if only to enlighten oneself to a sexual and social zeitgeist of a historical epoch. Very entertaining read. Recommended.NetGalley, reviewed by Mia D
Click me to read the review.NetGalley, reviewed by Osprey Archer
A very enjoyable History book, it was entertaining and written in a manor that was lively and didn't have a dry moment!NetGalley, reviewed by Heather Bennett
In Bed With The Georgians is a thoroughly delicious compendium of succulent titbits and shocking revelations about our fruity forebears. The action - and boy, is there a lot ofNetGalley, reviewed by Ophelia Sings
action - is, necessarily, centred around the pleasure pits of central London, specifically the fulcrum of Georgian London's burgeoning sex trade that was Covent Garden. As such, In Bed With the Georgians is something of a social history of London in microcosm, which only adds to its appeal. It's all a great deal of smutty fun, of course, but what I found particularly pleasing about Rendell's lively work was that unlike many other books on the subject, the true, often tragic facts are not shied away from. Rendell gives a voice to the women - and men - whom the sexual mores of the era worked against; the sad lot of women, for example, is laid devastatingly bare. The reader finds themselves far more shocked by the suffering meted out to wives, homosexuals and those who did not toe the double-standard riddled moralistic line than by the sexploits of Regency rakes and Covent Garden molls. A dark flipside indeed.
Both a dip-inable encylopaedia of sauce and a comprehensive history of what made our ancestors tick, In Bed With The Georgians takes us from the gutters of St Giles to the bedrooms of palaces on its sweeping journey through eighteenth century society - both high and low. If heaving bosoms, lecherous lords and dastardly deeds are your thing, you really do need to partake in this fizzing, accessible and thoroughly enjoyable romp.
A comprehensive reference book for our 21st century, Rendell impresses with lively tales of courtesans, courtiers, erotic writers and artists, scandals, and a Georgian urban dictionary with detail so keen that you can almost spot a heaving bosom between chapters.NetGalley, reviewed by Kristine Fisher
As featured inBookseller, November 2016
Life in the Georgian Court (Hardback)
As the glittering Hanoverian court gives birth to the British Georgian era, a golden age of royalty dawns in Europe. Houses rise and fall, births, marriages and scandals change the course of history and in France, Revolution stalks the land. Peep behind the shutters of the opulent court of the doomed Bourbons, the absolutist powerhouse of Romanov Russia and the epoch-defining family whose kings gave their name to the era, the House of Hanover. Behind the pomp and ceremony were men and women born into worlds of immense privilege, yet beneath the powdered wigs and robes of state were real people…By Catherine Curzon
Click here to buy both titles for £26.23