An Introduction to the Wrong Books

written by Kestrell December 2003

This list offers a variety of forms and formats, from sex advice pages which specifically discuss sexuality and disability to etext and eBooks with erotic content (if you need more information about accessible eBooks, go to my accessible eBooks page or the Accessing Palm Reader eBooks guide.

Sections of this guide include: Victorian Erotica Classical Erotica Contemporary Erotica Fetish and BDSM Erotica Dark Erotica and Erotic Horror Sexuality and Disability

Victorian Erotica

My pursuit of the erotic page began years ago when I discovered a slim volume with a pink cover squeezed onto a shelf in some otherwise forgetable chain bookstore. The book turned out to be an anthology of Victorian erotica, much like the volumes now available in eBook format from places like Renaissance EBooks (listed below). I was fascinated to find that those stuffy Victorians, whom I had until then believed to be very boring figures, had the most unboring licentious imaginations. One aspect of my fascination is that so many famous and seemingly proper Victorian gentlemen wrote the stuff. Their sense of fun at being caught out doing something naughty proves far more appealing than much of the more lurid contemporary stories which work so hard at being shocking. Victorian erotica does not take itself too seriously: instead, it rather resembles those screwball comedies of the 1930's. There are silly chases around the furniture, and ongoing debates between the man and woman as they take turns resisting the charms of the other (the man is frequently subjected to something like a job interview, wherre he is forced to argue his various skills and virtues before the woman will consider his application).

Though at times these stories read like overwrought schoolboy tales, full of unbelievable occurrences and unlikely characters, there is a thread of literate wit running through the stories. These books were written and produced--often in expensive luxurious leather covers--for the upper classes. Even the stories about the Victorians who published and purchased these books is fascinating. One such story is that told in the journals of Henry Hayler, pornographer to the aristocracy of Victorian London. . Hayler wrote his journal aboard ship while fleeing England after the authorities had raided his studio at 61 Pimlico (the title of a recently published biography about him.

For some historical background regarding erotica, refer to Walter Kendrick's *The Secret Museum*, available through the NLS) or The Secret Record: A History of Erotic Literature by Michael Perkins, which is part of an overview of erotica throughout history.

Additionally, here is a link to a Sex Dictionary.

And so, having set the scene, let me introduce you to some of these elegant English gentlmen.

John Cleland *Fanny Hill, Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure* (1748-49)

Truth! stark, naked truth, is the word; and I will not so much as take the pains to bestow the strip of a gauze wrapper on it, but paint situations such as they actually rose to me in nature, careless of violating those laws of decency that were never made for such unreserved intimacies as ours; and you have too much sense, too much knowledge of the ORIGINALS themselves, to sniff prudishly and out of character at the PICTURES of them. The greatest men, those of the first and most leading taste, will not scruple adorning their private closets with nudities, though, in compliance with vulgar prejudices, they may not think them decent decorations of the staircase, or salon.

Thus begins what many readers still refer to as a classic erotic novel. Written as a personal memoir penned by an English lady of easy virtue, *Fanny Hill* was the subject of the first U.S. obscenity trial in 1821. While *Fanny Hill* predates the Victorian period, it was the first book of its kind and set much of the tone and style for future erotic tales. (This is sort of one of those literary jokes in itself, since *Fanny Hill* was written as a parody of *Moll Flanders* a book which was written by Daniel Defoe, the same author who wrote *Robinson Crusooe*. While *Moll Flanders* was written as Defoe's puritanical if justifiable condemnation of the prostitution and pornography which was rampant in eighteenth-century London, *Fanny Hill* is both erotic and funny, taking a more lenient attitude toward the expression of human sexuality.

The above excerpt from the text was taken from the etext version on the English Server but there are other etext versions listed on the Online Books Page.
You can also purchase *Fanny Hill* in audiobook format from Amazon or borrow copies through the NLS or RFBD.

Walter *My Secret Life*

*My Secret Life*, like *A Man and a Maid*, is one of those erotic classics which has rarely been out of print since its original publication. The identity of the author itself has been the subject of a number of books, including Ian Gibson's *The Erotomaniac* in which Gibson maintains that Walter was really Henry Spencer Ashbee, a friend of Sir Richard Burton and Lord Houghton (more on these gentlmen below). Ashbee was a collector and cataloguer of erotica, and his three privately printed bibliographies published under the pseudonum 'Pisanus Fraxi' established him as Britain's leading authority on pornography. These bibliographies were somewhat dubiously legitimized by the use of Latin titles and an obsessive attention to blibliographic details: Index Librorum Prohibitorum (1877), Centuria Librorum Absconditorum (1879) and Catena Librorum Tacendorum ('String of Books Worthy of Being Silenced') (1885).

For more on the scholarship aspect of Ashbee, refer to the Web page of Patrick Kearney. Kearney compiled the catalogue of The Private Case, the collection of books in the British Library not openly circulated.

Note I shamelessly stole this link from here which is a delightful site written by a bibliophile from Bath, England (doesn't that sound as if it should be a limerick? "There once was a bawdy bookworm from Bath....)

you can find excerpts from *My Secret Life* online or you can purchase an accessible eBook of *My Secret Life* along with many other volumes of Victorian erotica discussed later in this article at Renaissance eBooks.
Note that the Renaissance eBooks Web site offers long excerpts of most of the Victorian erotica mentioned in this article and that the format used is a very accessible HTML.

You can read more about Ashbee and his contemporaries in the book *The Other Victorians* by Steven Marcus, available from the RFBD.

Anonymous *The Pearl*

"The Pearl"(subtitled "Journal of Facetiae and Voluptuous Reading") appeared monthly between July 1879 and December 1886, and published novels, short stories, ballads, and poems of an erotic nature. This is one of the collections of Victorian erotica which many readers accidentally stumble across in secondhand bookstores and remember with great fondness (read some of the customer reviews on Amazon, they are very amusing) and it offers perhaps the greatest variety of all the collections.

The RFBD has a copy of this but it is an unusually awful recording, and the reader sounds like an old lady librarian who severely disapproves of the material, but you can find an eBook version at Renaissance eBooks .

Frank Harris *My Life and Loves*

Frank Harris (1856-1931) was a writer and editor and a friend of Oscar Wilde (Harris actually warned Wilde to not pursue the libel suit against Queensberry which would ruin Wilde). *My Life and Loves* was, according to Harris, autobiographical, and he released four volumes during his lifetime. The first volume was published in a private edition in Paris in 1922, while the final volume was published posthumously in 1954 by the famed Olympia Press. Although this volume was largely edited and rewritten by writer Alexander Trocchi and is considered to be the least interesting of the five volumes, it is the one often reprinted and published under the title of *My Life and Loves*. You can read more about this book here> and you can get the eBook version at Renaissance eBooks.

Sir Richard Burton *Kama Sutra of Vatsayayana* (1883)

One of my favorite Vickies! Sir Richard Burton (1821-1890] ) was an explorer, a spy, a scholar, a linguist, and an Orientalist, largely responsible for the Victorian obsession with the East. An expert in Arabic and Islamic culture, Burton was the first Westerner to enter Mecca (in disguise). Burton is also famous for his translation of the *Kamasutra*, which is the earliest and best known of the Indian sex manuals. It has been variously dated from 300 B.C. to 400 A.D.

An etext of the *Kamasutra* along with much more information about Burton and his translations of Indian and Arabic sex manuals is available on the Sacred Texts Archive, under the sections titled "Sacred Sexuality" and "Tantra" Sacred Texts: Sacred Sexuality.

Not as well-known but perhaps more beautiful as far as its prose is *The Perfumed Garden*:*.

So let us praise and exalt him who has created woman and her beauties, with her appetizing flesh; who has given her hails a beautiful figure, a bosom with breasts which are swelling, and amorous ways, which awaken desires.

The Master of the Universe has bestowed upon them the empire of seduction; all men, weak or strong, are subjected to a weakness for the love of woman. Through woman we have society or dispersion, sojourn or emigration.

The state of humility in which are the hearts of those who love and are separated from the object of their love, makes their hearts burn with love's fire;
they are oppressed with a feeling of servitude, contempt and misery; they suffer under the vicissitudes of their passion:
and all this as a consequence of their burning desire for contact.

I, the servant of God, am thankful to him that no one can help falling in love with beautiful women, and that no one can escape the desire to possess them, neither by change, nor flight, nor separation.

And that's just the introduction to the book. Chapter 9, titled "Sundry Names Given to the Sexual Organs of Women," includes a list of names which sound more like terms of endearment: the starling, the restless one, the fugitive. (Can you tell this is one of my favorites? I highly recommend stealing excerpts from it for your love letters, and i think Sir Richard would approve.)

No less interesting than the books he wrote was the life of Burton himself, especially in regard to his relationship with his wife, Lady Isabelle Burton, who burned all his private papers, including his diaries, after his death. You can read more about this unusual Victorian couple in *A Rage to Live* by Mary S. Lovell, available through the NLS .

Burton was also a friend of Monckton Milnes, the future Lord Houghton, who aside from being renowned for his extensive collection of erotic texts was also the fiance of Florence Nightingale for many years, until she decided to dedicate her life to nursing (there's another relationship I would like to hear more about). It is at Milne's estate, Fryston , that Burton met the notorious pornographer Fred Hankey and the equally notorious poet Charles algernon Swinburne.

Charles Algernon Swinburne (1837-1909)

Swinburne could be considered one of the original Goths: his poetry often contains eroticized images of death, vampires, and masochistic acts. His second collection of poems titled *Poems and Ballads* was considered so shocking that it was withdrawn from circulation. The following excerpt is from "Dolores" (the subtitle means "Our Lady of Pain"(.

Dolores (Notre-Dame des Sept Dolours)

There are sins it may be to discover,
There are deeds it may be to delight.
What new work wilt thou find for thy lover,
What new passions for daytime or night?
What spells that they know not a word of
Whose lives are as leaves overblown?
What tortures undreamt of, unheard of,
Unwritten, unknown?

You can read the entire poem at the Representative Poetry Online page along with other poems by Swinburne.

You can read Swinburne's poem "Anactoria" which was based on lyrics by the ancient Greek poetess Sappho (more about her later) here from The

Swinburnne, along with Moncton-Milnes and Burton, wrote about--and indulged in--'le vice anglais' or "the English Vice," more commonly known as flagellation. Both Swinburne and Monkton-Milnes were purported to be possible authors of an infamous poem on the subject of the vice, The Rodiad (1871) and Swinburne's publisher, Hotten--who had picked up *Poems and Ballads* after it was withdrawn from circulation by its original publisher-- printed a number of books on the subject of flagellation, cataloguing them under "history," "anthropology," and even "medical texts." This was not an unusual method for getting aroundd would-be censors, the most famous example probably being Hotten's printing of Johann Heinrich Meibom's *De Flagorum usu in Re Medica et Venera* in 1872. Johann Heinrich Meibom (John Henry Meibomius), 1590-1655 wrote this work, otherwise titled 'A Treatise on the Use of Flogging in Medicine and Venery,' in an attempt to stamp out this practice which he claimed increased the "venery" of men. He goes into great detail to prove his point drawing on writers such as Juvenal, Ovid, Apuleius and Catullus. The graphic details, however, were read for the gratuitous delectation of those more prone to perpetuate the vice rather than seek its supression, thus its popularity amongst those educated Victorian gentlmen.

Classical Erotica

During the nineteenth century, archaeological excavations at Pompeii and Herculaneum unearthed many erotic mosaics, frescoes and statues, inspiring a keen interest in ancient history. The erotic literature of the ancient Greeks and Romans was not overlooked by the Victorians, either, and until the mid-twentieth century, many of these works were read in the original Latin.

The Priapeia

(Latin and English) Translated by L.C. Smithers, notes by Sir Richard Burton [1890] This is a collection of bawdy epigrams to the rather comicly over-endowed phallic god Priapus.

Ovid *Art of Love*

Ovid discusses the fine points of the Art of Love and seduction. One of the finest translations of Ovid's love lyrics was written by Christopher Marlowe, and you can find this wonderfully wicked translation at the Perseus site Art of Love

Ovid's Metamorphoses, 1567 These erotic tales of the affairs of the gods and goddesses provided much of the inspiration for the images used by Shakespeare in his comedies ("Midsummer Night's Dream" in particular). The first translation into English credited to Arthur Golding. Ovid's Metamorphoses Main Page at the University of Virginia Etext Center


If Ovid is scandalous, Catullus is well, more scandalous. Only in recent years were translations of his poetry not completely cleaned up, or even abridged or left completely out of printed volumes of his work.

Poem 48

If someone let me kiss your honeyed
eyes, Juventius, all I pleased,
I would kiss them three hundred thousand
times and never feel replete,
not if our kissing’s harvest should
outnumber ripened ears of wheat.

Poem 69

Do not wonder, Rufus, why no woman
will lay her tender thigh beneath your own,
not even if you tempt her with a gift
of fine clothes or a choice translucent stone.
What harms you is a certain ugly rumor
saying there’s a savage goat that lives
within your armpits’ valley. They all fear it.
No wonder. What a nasty beast it is.
No pretty girl would sleep with that-no way!
Therefore, destroy this cruel plague on noses
or cease to wonder why they run away.

Poem 70

My woman says there’s no one she would rather wed
than me, even if Jove himself had sought her.
She says-but what a woman tells an eager lover
should be inscribed on wind and running water.

For more about erotica throughout history, refer to The Secret Record, A History of Erotic Literature Edited by Michael Perkins including an essayon Victorian erotica.
Part 1--Classical period
Part 2--Reaniassance through the Enlightenment

Modern Erotica

D. H. Lawrence *Lady Chatterley's Lover*

I think this one is pretty boring myself, but perhaps more important than the work itself is that it was at the center of the most celebrated case brought under the U.S. Obscene publications Act was the 1960 Prosecution of Penguin Books for the posthumous publication of D. H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover.
Lady Chatterley's Lover etext

Henry Miller *Tropic of Cancer*

Banned in the U.S. until the 1961, Barney Rosset, Miller's publisher, managed to get this book through by first arranging for Lawrence's *Lady Chatterley's Lover* --a novel which he actually considered to be inferior--to be seized by the U.S. Mail, thus setting in motion the obscenity trial which allowed Rosset’s attorney, Charles Rembar, to argue in federal district court that the book deserved First Amendment consideration.

Under the Comstock Act of 1873, even books such as Burton's *Arabian Nights* and Chaucer's *Canterbury Tales* were banned from being sold through the U.S. mail. Officially known as the Federal Anti-Obscenity Act, this law banned the mailing of "lewd", "indecent", "filthy", or "obscene" materials. The Comstock laws, while now unenforced, remain for the most part on the books today; the Telecommunications Reform Bill of 1996 even specifically applied some of them to computer networks.

)For more about literature and obscenity trials, refer to *Girls Lean Back Everywhere: the law of obscenity and the assault on genius * by Edward de Grazia, available through the NLS.)

Henry Miller's *Tropic of Cancer* and some of his other books are available through the NLS and RFBD, and are also available in some cases on audiocassette from Amazon.

Anais Nin *Delta of Venus*

This woman writer wrote stories and poetry about love and sex from the woman's perspective, the first woman to blatantly do so since Sappho in the sixth-century B.C.She was also Henry Miller's lover, and wrote the intimate story of therir affair, released in book form under the title *Henry and June* and later made into the movie "Henry and June."

Many of Nin's books, including *Henry and June*, are available through the NLS or the RFBD.

Fetish and BDSM

Pauline Reage *The Story of O*

This erotica classic explores the nature of desire as O, a beautiful female fashion photographer, is willingly debased by her dominant male lover in a chateau outside Paris. Available from Renaissance EBooks.

Anne Rice writing as A.N. Roquelaire

The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty
Beauty's Punishment
Beauty's Release
Anne Rice writing as Anne Rampling
Exit to Eden

The Beauty trilogy is available from the NLS or from Amazon in audio format.

A Note About Dark Erotica and Erotic Horror:
A genre which grew up alongside of and often intermingled with erotica is Gothic literature. Though in part tales of lamia, succubi and incubi, and other seductive inhuman creatures and revenants had been around since Roman times, these revenants found new life, as it were, in such works as Ann Radcliff's *Castle of Otranto* hauntings and imperiled young heroines by Walpole and Lewis. Samuel Coleridge's long poem *Christabel* is also part of this genre, and it is intriguing not only as the first vampire story, but because both the heroine and the vampire are female. This poem fascinated Byron, and it was this he was reading aloud to his guests, Percy and Mary Shelley, on a certain stormy night. The friends, along with Byron's physician, John Polidori, decided to each write a gothic story, and from this contest came not only Mary Shelley's novel, *Frankenstein* but John Polidori's vampire story (some say he based his vampire on Byron himself). This story started a veritable plague of vampire stories, including *Dracula*. Themes of the erotic intertwine throughout these vampire stories, and they have provided not only the basis for much of what is today referred to as dark fantasy, or dark erotica, or erotic horror, but also provided an outlet for a genre of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, supernatural fiction. What is interesting is that women poured out such writing, filling the magazines of the times with such tales (refer to *What Did Miss Darrington See?* by Jessica Salmonson, available through the NLS). This genre thrives today in the works of Angela Carter, Anne Rice and darker works by Poppy Z. Bright and Nancy Kilpatrick AKA Amarantha Knight (her work is now being reprinted by Circlet Press though these books are only available in paper form). You can read an interview with Nancy Kilpatrick in which she discusses dark erotica here.

The Hard Shell Word Factory is an online eBook seller similar to Fictionwise which offers an entire category of romances known as "Paranormal Romance," which overlaps both the time travel and the dark fantasy categories. Hard Shell Word Factory

Another paranormal romance writer who writes some great erotic scenes into her books is Barbara Clark. Her Tears of the Hawk is excellent. I bought my copy at Fictionwise, but more of her books are available at Amber Quill, which sells all varieties of romance and erotica.

Amber Quill Press
available in HTML, also PDF and LIT (MS Reader format), though I don't know if these are secured formats (i.e., accessible formats), but there is a customer service email address listed near the bottom of the order page if you need to ask any questions. There is also a monthly email newsletter.

Ramsey Campbell has one of his books of erotic horror available as an eBook in Palm Reader format on the Palm Digital Media Web site.
Palm Digital Media has an entire section of eBooks in its "Erotica" category, and this includes a collection of stories by Cecelia Tan, *Black Feathers*.

Fictionwise also has an erotica section, and also offers Cecelia Tan's book, but I noticed it is much pricier on Fictionwise. Fictionwise also offers some of the same erotic eBooks available on Renaissance eBooks, but the Renaissance eBooks are in an unsecured format (all Renaissance eBooks are in a very easy to access HTML format), so those who have a format preference might choose one over the other.

Another romance/erotica ebook vendor is Amatory Ink.
I have not used this site but it seems accessible.

Another interesting genre of erotica is called slashfiction. This type of fiction takes a well-known character, usually one from a television series or movie, and throws the character or entire cast of characters into an erotic situation. There is Harry Potter slashfiction (slash for short), Buffy the Vampire Slayer slashfiction, and one of the oldest and most popular, Kirk and Spock slashfiction (there is even a remix of lines taken directly from the show which adds a certain erotic spin to the relationship; you can sometimes hear this remix on shows like Dr. Demento.). A Short History of Kirk/Spock Slash
Wikipedia Slashfiction entry
One of the most popular slashfiction Web pages is Mistress Janeway'sReady Room.

Dusk Darkling: Historical Fantasy Tales and Resources
This is the Web site of a visually-impaired erotica writer who writes in a number of interesting genres; one of my friends is addicted to her writing.

Erotica Readers and Writers Association
Aside from offering one of the best erotica writers mailing lists in the business, ERWA contains on its Web site not only stories but booklists, information, and much more. Be warned: if you are interested in joining the mailing list, you definitely get lots of content but the list is very high traffic, though it is offered in digest form.

Sign up for the monthly update

Another resource site for erotica writers is Erotic Quills Writing Erotica.

My Sexuality and Disability
including this article written by a sex therapist who discusses disability history and practices

Clean Sheets Online Erotica Magazine
Clean Sheets is a weekly online magazine offering an eclectic variety of fiction and non-fiction, poetry, and reviews. An example of the excellent articles this online magazine offers is a recent article on sexual awareness and education being promoted by college students for students: The New Sexy Student Body: Are You Squirming Yet?

Scarlet Letters
Erotica, advice, articles, etc.; includes a weekly newsletter.

The teen version of Scarlet Letters which offers education and advice columns about relationships and sex.