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The Victorian Guide to Sex (Paperback)

Desire and Deviance in the 19th Century

P&S History > British History > Victorian History P&S History > By Century > 19th Century P&S History > Social History Women of History World History > Europe World History > UK & Ireland > England > London

By Fern Riddell
Imprint: Pen & Sword Social History
Pages: 152
Illustrations: 50 b/w integrated illustrations
ISBN: 9781781592861
Published: 31st May 2014
Last Released: 17th December 2021



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As featured by BBC History Magazine - History Hot 100 results 2017: What the experts say 

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An exciting factual romp through sexual desire, practises and deviance in the Victorian era. The Victorian Guide to Sex will reveal advice and ideas on sexuality from the Victorian period. Drawing on both satirical and real life events from the period, it explores every facet of sexuality that the Victorians encountered.

Reproducing original advertisements and letters, with extracts taken from memoirs, legal cases, newspaper advice columns, and collections held in the Museum of London and the British Museum, this book lifts the veil from historical sexual attitudes.

As featured in Books for Valentine's Day 2018 by Julia Paddon

On: Yorkshire magazine

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BBC History, September 2017

Author article as featured in

BBC History, Christmas 2016

All in all this is a very readable, enjoyable and educational book and made me extremely thankful that I live in the 21st Century. However, I am not convinced we have made anything like the advances in understanding or tolerance that so many of us think we have.

Rear Party, Bitza

As featured on


Riddell's book lifts the veil on historic sexual attitudes to illuminate the secrets of our ancestors' lives.
Written with wry humour in a pastiche of Victorian style, the book is both entertaining and highly informative.

Your Family Tree

Although Queen Victoria was supposedly prudish, she popped out nine tiny Saxe-Coburgs and the population more than doubled during her reign. We might think of the Victorians as sexually repressed, but they were clearly at it like stoats. In 'The Victorian Guide to Sex' Fern Riddell synthesises a wealth of material from marriage guides, newspapers, and the archives to bring us a more sophisticated and composite view of our ancestors.

[This book] is an enjoyable read and an informative survey of Victorian sexual tastes and preoccupations. Riddell knows her stuff and succeeds in presenting a rigorously balanced account of this complex subject. From her absorbing book, the Victorian era emerges as no less surprising or contradictory than our own.

Victorian Geek - blog.catherinepope.co.uk
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 Fern Riddell

About Fern Riddell

Fern Riddell is a cultural historian. She is about to complete her PhD in Victorian Music Hall, has a high profile in the history world and frequently appears in the media. As well as frequent radio interviews, she has already made multiple TV appearances, including ITV's Secrets from the Workhouse and the BBC Coast show.

Fern has also been approached by several production companies eager to work on a TV series related to her book.

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