Victorian London’s Dirty Book Trade.

19th-century “French postcard” from the personal collection of the German-Austrian psychiatrist and early sexologist Richard Freiherr von Krafft-Ebing — Source.

Title page to an 1891 edition of The Story of a Dildoe! — Source. The full book is available, in English.

The Public Domain has a fascinating article on Holywell Street, home of the Victorian porn trade. There’s much to see, and read.

Victorian sexuality is often considered synonymous with prudishness, conjuring images of covered-up piano legs and dark ankle-length skirts. Historian Matthew Green uncovers a quite different scene in the sordid story of Holywell St, 19th-century London’s epicentre of erotica and smut.

(Tentative warning: the essay includes some mildly explicit content, both text and image, which may not be suitable for all ages and dispositions!)*

*Having read the article, there’s some very explicit language, not all of it nice. If you’re sensitive to that sort of thing, have a care. And there are a host of pictures, lots of nudity.

Via The Public Domain.


  1. rq says

    What stuck out from the article (besides some of the obvious bits and pieces) was the mention that nothing was presented as particularly deviant. Where has all the prudishness gone?

  2. says

    I rather doubt prudes were hanging out on Holywell street. Besides, in my experience, it’s prudes who are hypocritical to the extreme.

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