Sunday, 17 July 2005

Pornography in 1660s London


Samuel Pepys

There was no abundance of pornography in Samuel Pepys' London. If you wanted a porno book you had a long search to look forward to and when you eventually found it the likelihood would be that it was in French. Worse still, nine times out of ten it would not be illustrated. Only Aretino's Postures (the title says it all really) was equiped with explicit illustrations, although the British Library copy has had these omitted...
One of the most famous books of this kind was the L'Ecole des Filles which described all kinds of situations, whereas the Dialogue Betwwen Tullia and Octavia took the reader further, into the world of s&m, group sex and other such practices. Rare Verities even went so far as to describe acts of bestiality.

Samuel Pepys, not a man to shy away from the pleasures of the flesh, one day went into his bookseller's shop, where he saw a copy of L'Ecole des Filles:

"...I saw the French book which I did think to have had for my wife to translate...it was so bawdy and lewd..."

Apparently he was ashamed to be seen reading it in the shop but eventually, after 3 weeks he managed to get the courage to buy it, in plain cover of course. He read it on a Sunday and wrote:

"...a lewd book, but what doth me no wrong to read for information sake."

After having read it through and through he decided to burn it before his wife had a chance to read it.
Several years later, in 1688, a printer and bookseller were prosecuted and fined for this book.

5 comments:

Daldianus said...

Reading your past headlines you sure like to dwelve into the sensual aspects of History ... ;)

Keep it up. Interesting reads.

Alterior said...

It's all part of the big picture... ;-)

ResoluteReader said...

Just read a story in a book I'm reading about East End London in the late 1880s, it brought to mind your post on pornography in the 1660s

"Ann Golding, aged 44, a South Grovepauper, who when body-searched on admission [to the workhouse] as found to harbour "two packages containing indecent manuscripts" which were confiscated. The next morning Ann demanded their return, and, on refusal, hurled foul abuse at the labour master and threw a pannikin through the window "breaking a pane of glass value 3s, the property of the Guardians"...... Magistrate Saunders responded accordinagly. Declaring that she was more fitted for a lunatic asylum than a poor house, he nevertheless sent her off to server 2 months hard labour. "The prisner, upon leaving the dock, ejaculated, 'Good luck to you, old cock!'"

[East End 1888, William J. Fishman]

Alterior said...

What is the book called?

Poplar Reader said...

East End 1888 by William J. Fishman