#NonfictionNovember Review | Sex and Sexuality in Victorian Britain by Violet Fenn

Sex and Sexuality in Victorian Britain
by Violet Fenn

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.

My Rating:
⭐⭐⭐

Blackwell’s | Book Depository | Bookshop | Wordery

I received an eARC of Sex and Sexuality in Victorian Britain from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Despite my love of history, and the fact that the Victorian era is the bread and butter of most primary school history lessons in the UK and the backdrop of many historical romance novels, the 19th century isn’t a century I know an awful lot about. I probably know a lot more about Victorian literature than I do about Victorian politics and society.

Something I’ve become more and more interested in over the years, however, is the history of sex workers, so when I spotted this book on NetGalley I couldn’t resist requesting it. At under 200 pages this is very much a ‘does what it says on the tin’ book that gives its readers a general introduction to the various branches of sex and sexuality during the Victorian era, and while there are certain topics I’d’ve liked Fenn to have explored more I think this is the ideal place to start for readers like me who aren’t experts in this particular era of history.

Fenn’s writing is so readable and it’s clear this is a book written by a historian who loves her subject and is very knowledgeable about the research being carried out by other historians. When this book touches upon sex workers and mentions the Whitechapel murders, for example, she mentions Hallie Rubenhold’s The Five, one of my favourite pieces of non-fiction, and I really appreciated knowing I was reading a book by an author who is very aware of the work of her contemporaries.

The only reason I didn’t rate this book any higher was that it seemed to end very abruptly, but I’m not sure how much of that is down to the fact that I was reading an eARC; I wonder if the final chapter is more fleshed out in the final published version. That aside, Sex and Sexuality in Victorian Britain is an accessible introduction to its subject matter and I’d happily read more by Violet Fenn in future.

10 thoughts on “#NonfictionNovember Review | Sex and Sexuality in Victorian Britain by Violet Fenn

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