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Mighty Lewd Books The Development of Pornography in Eighteenth-Century England by Julie Peakman

Mighty Lewd Books The Development of Pornography in Eighteenth-Century England


Mighty Lewd Books The Development of Pornography in Eighteenth-Century England by Julie Peakman

Mighty Lewd Books describes the emergence of a new home-grown English pornography. Through the examination of over 500 pieces of British erotica, this book looks at sex as seen in erotic culture, religion and medicine throughout the long eighteenth-century, and provides a radical new approach to the study of sexuality.


'Long overdue, an assessment of English pornography needs to pay attention to context as well as content. Peakman's book is rich with detail and she presents texts that have long been hidden from view. A must read.' - Margaret C. Jacob, UCLA, USA

'When [Julie Peakman] started out, the topic of erotic writings was a largely uncharted and under-theorized field. To a considerable degree she has had to carve out the boundaries of the topic for herself and work out her own intellectual framework... well-researched, well-documented, well-argued and coherent... makes a substantial contribution to scholarship' - Roy Porter

'It is now generally agreed that the creation of new sexual stereotypes and forms of self-identity in the eighteenth century is central to the creation of 'modernity'. Part of this process was the emergence of new, and newly domesticated, forms of pornography and erotic writing. Mighty Lewd Books gives us a readable, engaging and conprehensive account of the history of eighteenth-century pornography and erotica. By exploring the history of this artefact of sexual behaviour at the moment when modern sexualities were created, Peakman provides a new and important understanding of both the meaning of dirty books, and the origins of modernity.' - Tim Hitchcock

'This...fascinating and intelligent survey shows how an explosion of obscene literature immediately followed the wild success of pioneering (but largely non-pornographic) fictions by Defoe, Swift, Richardson and their imitators...Porn's strongest selling point were that it was sexy, unrespectable and forbidden, of course, but Julie Peakman shows that it had other attributes, not always connected directly with sex. It popularised new scientific ideas in botany, anatomy and electricity. It stoked the fires of anti-Catholicism with its lecherous monks and nuns, and it encompassed radical ideas in politics.' - Financial Times

'Drawing heavily on the contents of what the British Library quaintly terms its Cupboard, better known as the Private Case, plus a vast bibliography of secondary sources, she [Peakman] displays the whole world of Eighteenth-century erotica/porn and offers explications of both practice and theory.' - Erotic Review

'...fascinating book...well-written and researched...this book offers intriguing new insights into a hidden area of gender history, challenging many preconceptions about the c18th century.' - BBC History Magazine

'This is a serious work for those with serious interest in the theme, but given the rollicking nature of that theme, there is reason to smile frequently.' - Rob Hardy, The Dispatch'

About the Author

JULIE PEAKMAN is one of the most innovative of the young historians to emerge in the recent explosion of gender history. She lectures in Sex in History, is currently working on her second book on sexual behaviour in the eighteenth-century and is a fellow of the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine. She regularly appears at national and international conferences and in the media.

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Book Info

Publication date

1st January 2012


Julie Peakman

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Palgrave Macmillan


263 pages


Gender studies, gender groups
Sexual behaviour

Social & cultural history
Social & cultural history
Literature & literary studies



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