The pre-Victorians and Victorians may have attempted to show the world that they were upright, strict and full of virtue. Much of this thinking, however, has been subverted by their erotic writing of the time.
I found this list in one of my favorite Russian blogs and couldn’t resist to make a post of it. Truly, Fifty Shades of Grey might look like a kiddie lit in comparison with the following 10 popular erotic books of 19th century.
The Pearl, A Magazine of Facetiae and Voluptuous Reading was an eotic monthly magazine issued for 18 months in London by William Lazenby from July 1879 to December 1880, with two Christmas supplements; it was closed down by the authorities for publishing obscene literature. Lazenby followed it with The Oyster (1883) and The Boudoir.
The general format of the magazine was to publish three serial erotic tales simultaneously, devoted to sex in high society, incest and flagellation, respectively, interspersed with obscene parodies, poems and limericks. The publisher William Lazenby also wrote some of the articles. A number of the poems are thought to have been written by Algernon Charles Swinburne. The format of the magazine can be seen as a parody of contemporary magazines aimed at the family market.
9. Novel «The Romance of Lust, or Early Experiences» (1873-1876) The Romance of Lust, or Early Experiences is a Victorian erotic novel written anonymously in four volumes during the years 1873–1876 and published by William Lazenby. The fool text of The Romance of Lust, by Anonymous can be found on Project Gutenberg EBook.
8. Novel «The Sins of the Cities of the Plain» (1881) The Sins of the Cities of the Plain; or, The Recollections of a Mary-Ann, with Short Essays on Sodomy and Tribadism, a memoir by the pseudonymous “Jack Saul”, is one of the first exclusively homosexual pieces of English-language pornographic literature ever published. The book might have been largely written by James Campbell Reddie and the painter Simeon Solomon, who had been convicted of public indecency in 1873 and disgraced. It was first published in 1881 by the same above mentioned William Lazenby, who printed 250 copies. A second edition was published by Leonard Smithers in 1902.
The Nunnery Tales; or Cruising Under False Colours was first published in Holland in the 1890’s though may have been written sometime before. As ever the story is merely a loosely plotted vehicle for some even looser morals and sexual romping. Again as is quite familiar to readers of Victorian erotica the Church is involved in a most intimate and lascivious way.
6. «Venus in Furs» is a novella by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch.
The novel draws themes, like female dominance and sadomasochism, and character inspiration heavily from Sacher-Masoch’s own life. The term masochism is named after Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, the author of Venus in Furs, exploring a sadomasochistic relationship.
The Autobiography of a Flea is an anonymous erotic novel first published in 1887 in London by Edward Avery. The author, in fact, was a London lawyer of the time named Stanislas de Rhodes.
The story is narrated by a flea who tells the tale of a beautiful young girl named Bella whose burgeoning sexuality is taken advantage of by her young lover Charlie, the local priest Father Ambrose, two of his colleagues in holy orders and her own uncle.
4. Novel «The Lustful Turk» (1828)
The Lustful Turk, or Lascivious Scenes from a Harem is a pre-Victorian British erotic epistolary novel first published anonymously in 1828 by John Benjamin Brookes and reprinted by William Dugdale. However, it was not widely known or circulated until the 1893 edition. In the 20th century, the novel won a huge popularity yet again and was reprinted several times. The plot is summarized with relish in a Wikipedia article and Wikisource has a full text.
[…]Typical Victorian erotica. The ‘English Vice’ as the French call it, in all its glory. Usual scenes of birching common to all such books.
[…]Feeble, primitive Victorian smut. Lots of talk, little action, and that poorly depicted. Don’t bother with this. Try The Pearl for a better sample of the era’s erotica.
[…]Of course — the goings-on in Verbena House would be morally reprehensible, and even illegal, if they occurred in reality. But this is just a story — intended to titillate those of us who “get off” on having fantasies involving moderate corporal punishment. So read and enjoy — without guilt! No one can blame us for just being what we are – unrepentant spanko perverts! Kinky and proud! (From various reviews.)
During his lifetime, the poet Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909) produced numerous works reflecting his interest in masochism and flagellation. The Whippingham Papers, published anonymously in 1888, contains a collection of vignettes of corporal punishment being meted out to both boys and girls, almost always in a school setting. The disciplinary acts in The Whippingham Papers often take place in groups where one child is punished before onlookers who delight in the spectacle of a classmate being disciplined. Apparently, the memory of the whips applied to their young hides lingered in former male students for a long time, since they read this largely comic verses with great interest.
«Gynecocracy: A Narrative of the Adventures and Psychological Experiences of Julian Robinson» is a Victorian pornographic novel in the form of an autobiography by the pseudonymous “Viscount Ladywood”, in three volumes, published in 1893. Its psychological insights were praised by an outspoken advocate for sexual minorities, prominent German sexologist and physician Magnus Hirschfeld (1868 – 1935.)