Sex and Sexuality in Victorian Britain (Hardback)
Peek beneath the bedsheets of nineteenth-century Britain in this affectionate, informative and fascinating look at sex and sexuality during the reign of Queen Victoria. It examines the prevailing attitudes towards male and female sexual behaviour, and the ways in which these attitudes were often determined by those in positions of power and authority. It also explores our ancestors’ ingenious, surprising, bizarre and often entertaining solutions to the challenges associated with maintaining a healthy sex life.
Did the people in Victorian times live up to their stereotypes when it came to sexual behaviour? This book will answer this question, as well as looking at fashion, food, science, art, medicine, magic, literature, love, politics, faith and superstition through a new lens, leaving the reader uplifted and with a new regard for the ingenuity and character of our great-great-grandparents.
This book was really fun! Everything from riding bicycles, petticoats, sex before marriage to the seedier side of Victorian sex- Jack the Ripper, prostitution and STDs. It was exactly what I was looking for in a book like this. It didn’t change my life, but it was interesting and educational enough to bring up in many conversations. I feel like I know more but I also feel like I had fun. I would definitely recommend this.NetGalley, Becky Gaiovnik
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Sara Marsden
I absolutely adored this look at sexuality in the Victorian period. I’m very interested in sexual history and the perceived notions people had over the so called prudish nature of the Victorians which this book proves is a myth!
Loved the writing and can’t wait to read more by the author.
A factual and informative look at the sex lives of people living in a time assumed by many nowadays to be quite prudish, at least outwardly. This book was interesting and easy to read. Topics were engaging.NetGalley, Mary Willis
I was delighted to see this book, as I hate the stereotype that Victorians were all buttoned-up prudes. Thank you, Violet Fenn, for helping to disperse that myth!NetGalley, Emily Houlston-Jones
Fenn says in the introduction that someone could write entire books based off the materials in some of the chapters, and she isn't lying. The sections very much feel like introductory overviews. Not necessarily a bad thing, but something to be aware of. This isn't a deep delve.
While there may not be much depth, there certainly is breadth. Fenn covers courtship, fashion, gay relationships and pornography among other topics. Even though she doesn't go very in-depth on many of the topics, the book doesn't feel light on research. It's clear that Fenn has done some serious researcj, but she wears the weight of her research lightly, and it means that the book skips along nicely while still being informative.
The only thing that keeps this from being 5 stars is the length. It is a very short book, and I was left wanting more. Hopefully this book will be revised and additional material added.
A quick aside: This book disproved the 'Victoria didn't believe in lesbians' theory I've heard (and repeated!) so many times. Thanks for stopping me from spreading that misinformation about!
Many thanks to Pen & Sword History for an advanced review copy of the book via Netgalley.
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Carmen L
If you are interested in Victorian times and how sex was treated then, this is your book! Along its pages you can find references to homosexuality, prostitution, contraception methods, sexually transmitted diseases, fidelity… and of course it tackles the role of women in Victorian society.
An excellent read, I strongly recommend it!
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Emilio Alaniz
This book was a quick guide to how Victorian society received the individual and their journey expressing their sexuality. She examined class, politics, fashion, medicine, and love among the many intersectional variables to an individual’s sexual identity. This book lays the groundwork to how the Victorians conceptualized sexuality and give an everlasting impression on the importance of that era in British society. I enjoyed this book thoroughly and commend its use of prose in speaking candidly concerning intellectual concepts, and appreciated the authors' intellectual curiosity. I felt this was a brief yet conclusive examination at what Victorian society believed regarding sex and sexuality but showed importantly the humanity to which they lived. Overall I gave this book five out of five stars on Goodreads and highly recommend it.
Quite an interesting read I must admit. Delved deeper into a subject that is quite fascinating in general and during a time period that isn't very often spoken of in terms of sex.NetGalley, Makenzie Erickson
I did find it fascinating and written in such an engaging manner. Violet Fenn discusses topics ranging from homosexuality to sex toys to contraception and everything in between. I found the story of Edith Lanchester the most interesting. Edith decided she would never wed her lover but still live with him. Her father found out and had her committed to an asylum. I won’t spoil the end of her story, but you must read this well written book on the society thought to be the most prude.NetGalley, Amy Downes
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Alan D.D.
This book proved to be everything I expected it to be and more. Enlightening, entertaining and charming in equal parts, it will give many hours of pleasure to its readers, which will want more after reading its end, in which we get to know some of the most groundbreaking discoveries made during nineteenth-century Britain. It’s a delight for the brain.
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Dale Dewitt
This book was very enjoyable and eye-opening to read. My wife and I have recently become very interested in the Victorians and this book shines a perfect light on them. To discover that the staid and uptight Victorians were not really that different from us was fun to discover. Ms. Fenn paints a clear picture and opens up the world of the Victorians better than other books I have read on the period.
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Heather Bennett
Interesting and informative with engaging writing, if you want to learn about the history of some of your own sexual hangup read this book!!
I really liked learning more about how things were different back in the Victorian era... I would definitely recommend this to anyone who wants to know more about different times.NetGalley, Emy Girard
Highly detailed look at Victorian Britain covering every aspect of life from the upper classes to their servants. Filled with anecdotes and busting widely held myths this book explores Sex and Sexuality and how Victorians coped with society's restrictions.NetGalley, Jenny Dunne
This was an interesting read and I liked how it explored sex and sexuality from different areas of Victorian Britain. The sources and arguments presented were interesting and I thought the writing style was clear and easy to follow for your average reader with enough detail for those more advanced in the topic to still learn about the time period.NetGalley, Bethany Younge
I've been waiting to read this kind of book in ages. The subject matter has interested me all these years and there are no such books that really tackle sexuality in Victorian society, some just go over it shortly. Informative, fun to read, highly recommended if you're interested in this sort of thing.NetGalley, Jimbo Pantas
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Courtney Tonokawa
Far too many people associate the Victorian period with a largely sexless dour period, and it's great to have a reminder that history is often much more scandalous than we think. Even with all the laws prohibiting homosexuality, same sex couples lived and thrived, as well as causing scandal and being persecuted. Sex life wasn't just about procreation, and women, even against society's dictates, did find ways to explore their sexuality. This is a well-researched look behind the stiff-upper-lipped, prim-and-proper facade of Victorian life that I would give to any history buff.
One of my favourite period in history has to be the Victorian era. I will actively read books set during this time – fiction and non-fiction – just because the world was so fascinating. The changes that were occurring not just industrially but also socially – it always makes for an interesting read.NetGalley, Lisa Bentley
It was due to this that I was intrigued to read Sex and Sexuality in Victorian Britain. What made it even more interesting for me is that it isn’t focused on London which to be fair is usually the location for a lot of books on Victoriana. This book had links to my hometown of Liverpool. Hurrah.
Sex and Sexuality in Victorian Britain was fantastic. It was an academic book without the need of academia to be able to read, understand, and enjoy it. It was eye-opening and titillating all at once. Fenn has researched her topic well and added the element of heart – something that sometimes lacks in other texts of this ilk. I hoovered this book, relishing every page and any fan of history should find enjoyment between these pages.
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Eva Seeraq
I found it to be a very good primer that more than lives up to the title and discusses what the topic of sex and sexuality in Victorian England from the point of view of societal expectations toward women, but also how they were enforced, and the legal acts that went along with them. Particularly for an era in which it is difficult to get accurate statistics, it is an important source for researchers looking into this area. It talks about prostitution, as well. They also (rightly) bring up the tricky challenge of studying the era, which is to discover photographs that were "titillating" for lack of a better term and could be considered embarrassing (or in some cases illegal), and so it's difficult because they would not have been an official document or record. Not to mention because the camera was still a relatively new invention and while there were advances even into the 1890s, it was definitely not a societal situation in which everyone had a camera in hand or ready access to one.
The Romanticism movement is discussed and its roots in the French chivalry moment that preceded it centuries before. Queen Victoria's own marriage is also discussed and analyzed. Overall, the discussion of the social life and customs of Victorian-era women written in an accessible way is of great interest for anyone interested in the period.
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Amanda Mae
I’ve never read a more interesting book, let alone a book on sexuality during the Victorian era! Definitely unforgettable and full of amazing facts and examples. Would recommend to any history buffs out there.
It was an interesting and informative read that kept me hooked till the last page.NetGalley, Anna Maria Giacomasso
I discovered a lot new information and how the approach of Victorian age people was different from what we thing.
The book is well researched and well written.
An excellent read, highly recommended.
I found this book absolutely fascinating! If you read ‘The Curious History of Sex’, then you should really enjoy this book! It’s not too academic but is so insightful, I found myself completely immersed in the period and subject. Will be purchasing for my library!NetGalley, Sinead Noonan
I found this book really interesting, the Victorians for me are fascinating so this was always going to be a hit with me!NetGalley, Donna Maguire
The author covers quite a bit in the pages available from the different sexually transmitted diseases that were rife at this time, particularly syphilis, through to prostitution, cross dressing and the tragic consequences of homosexuality with it of course being a criminal act at this time.
The book was concise and I liked the way it was split in to the different chapters. The book was clearly focussed and the author has done a lot of research and knows her topic. I thought that it was well written too and I did find it to be an easy read and it didn’t really take me very long to read as the book is only 144 pages so more of a novella length for me.
It is 4 stars from me for this one, I thought it was full of interesting detail and it is definitely one I would recommend to people who have an interest in this period – highly recommended!
Sex and Sexuality in Victorian Britain is a phenomenal piece of non-fiction written by Violet Fenn. As a true history junkie, I was beyond excited when I got approved to read this book! I was a bit suspicious that I wouldn't like it before I started reading. And I was wrong. I sincerely enjoyed this book. It was educational and well-researched, so that didn't disappoint me. What I enjoyed most were the real-life examples and experiences of people from the Victorian age. I found it really interesting to read their letters and diary entries.NetGalley, Ivana de Bona
My favourite chapter is Lifting the Lid on Lust: Libido, Kinks, and Sex Toys . The sassiness of the author toward other authors was very entertaining. I really like how Violet Fenn broke some of the misconceptions people have about the Victorian age, especially those concerning women and their intimacy.
I would certainly recommend this book to anyone interested in history, human condition and sex.
A short and entertaining book about sexuality in Victorian society. The author presents the joyful aspects of people's intimate relations as well as the darker sides like prostitution, STDs and criminalisation of homosexuality. The book gets rid of some old myths and gives various examples of people and court cases that invite to explore the subject further. As an introduction to the topic I highly recommend this.NetGalley, Anja Kwiatkowski
A really interesting overview of sex and sexuality in Victorian Britain. It's not a dry academic book but rather a broad overview that dispels common myths about the Victorian's prudish views and expands on the ways in which they were very similar to people today but also were very informed by the time they lived in with regard to how their behavior was expressed. Easy read that acts as a gateway to exploring the Victorians mentioned in the book.NetGalley, C.R. Elliott
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Cynthia Troncquo
I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this book! I devoured it so interesting, and well written, it was!
Informative books can be, sometimes, clinical in their explanations, in my opinion, which makes me loose interest halfway in. But this one was approachable, easy and enjoyable to read. There was clearly a lot of research done for this, and it shows. I had some knowledge of the Victorian Era, but learned so much more!
I’d strongly recommend this book to any lover of this period in history.
I'd say this was an engaging book for those new to the topic. It is well written and ranges widely to pick up some really interesting things, from the trend for cycling to the subtext of 'Dracula'.NetGalley, Kate Baty
This was a very good, well-researched, and highly readable look into the truth behind sex and sexuality in Victorian England. Violet Fenn looks behind the starched facades to the reality beneath- which is that anything you've thought of doing, it's been done before. She explores the dark realities of prostitution and sexually transmitted diseases and the tragic consequences of criminalizing homosexuality, but also introduces lighter elements and knocks down traditional stories like Victorians covering piano legs to prevent anyone from getting too excited. One of the things I loved best about "Sex and Sexuality in Victorian Britain" was how often I found myself saying: "so that's where that comes from!". From word origins to myths to facts of daily life, it was fun to discover their basis in Victorian life.NetGalley, Anne Morgan
Overall a delightful, witty, and fun read, "Sex and Sexuality in Victorian Britain" is perfect for history lovers who want to learn more about the real lives behind the era, and women's roles-as victor as well as victim- in particular.