Book Review: Sex and Sexuality in Stuart Britain

Updated: Sep 26



Sex and Sexuality in Stuart Britain is the kind of history book I adore. It’s filled with fascinating tidbits and anecdotes which really give a sense of time and place. The book covers a wide variety of topics, more topics than I thought possible, and includes things that are related to sex but aren’t immediately obvious – like witchcraft. From pre-marital sex, to infamous women/men, to the terminology of the day. The book covers the gamut.


One of my favorite sections was early on where the author went into a very frank and historical description of what the Stuart era Britons found attractive. This included that many women often wore special wigs which were called merkins on their private parts if they for some reason didn’t have pubic hair. But that the art of the day didn’t include it, not because it wasn’t attractive, but for aesthetic reasons. I also loved the part where it went into how a woman’s enjoyment of the marriage bed was equally important to a man’s pleasure. There’s really so many good anecdotes peppered with selections from various primary resources. So many primary resources. And not just Pepys, although he is used, but Pepys is not venerated unlike in so many other books on the Stuart Era. Pepys is presented as he is… a great diarist to be sure, but also his vices as well. I did not know that Pepys had wandering hands so problematic that while in church women would threaten to stab him with pins if he didn’t stop groping them. Yeah. Good to know.


Who would I recommend this book to: Anyone who is intrigued by sexual mores of the different time periods. I triply recommend it to anyone who is interested in writing in the Stuart era. This particularly applies to romance authors who dabble in the late Elizabethan through the early Georgian Period. The period-appropriate terminology alone is worth it. But it also includes so many other useful things. I really enjoyed reading this book. I definitely will be re-reading it and recommending it. Five Stars.


If this is your jam, you can get it here.


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(I received a copy of this book via NetGalley)


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