Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Best of Writers in London in the 1890s

There's a widget tin the column on the left that lists my most popular posts. The things that appear there sometimes surprise me.

Now that it's been more than two years since I decided to blog my writing tangents, I thought it was time to compile a list of my favourite posts. They may not be my greatest hits, but these tangents represent some of my favourite ideas.

In chronological order:

1. A Bunch of Hairy Men.
Using this helpful chart, I now know that the style of Bram Stoker's beard was called 'dangle swangles.'

2. The Arminus Vanbery Myth.
It turns out the guy, who academics thought was Stoker's vampire informant, might not have known anything about vampires at all, but was, in fact, an international spy. He also totally looks like Antonio Banderas, who once played a vampire called, Armin. Coincidence? I don't think so...

3. The Top Ten Reasons Oscar Wilde Hated His Brother.
The squabbles between Oscar and Willie Wilde went beyond sibling rivalry. Willie was a danger to himself and his family. Too bad Alcoholics Anonymous wasn't popular in London yet.

4. Never Let Edmund Gosse Arrange The Seating Plan at Dinner.
This is just a little anecdote about a literary dinner party on 25 July 1888, but it is telling nonetheless.

5. 100 Random Things About Oscar Wilde.
For my 100th post, I shared 100 random things about Oscar Wilde. When it comes to the great aesthete, I just can't get enough.

6. Sherlock the Bully.
This guy's name is Charles Brookfield. He was the first actor to play Sherlock Holmes on the stage and he was a bully.

7. Immoral Essays by Bram Stoker.
For the most part, I've been disappointed with The Lost Journal of Bram Stoker, but it's nice to see that he had a sense of humour.

8. How to Curse like a Gentleman: the F-Bomb.
This post was fun to write and I liked making the images. It also inspired the Victorian Dictionary Project.

9. The Chamber of Horrors (Waxworks).
This subject was fun to research and could be the next theme for American Horror Story!

10. 20 Things You Should Know About Bram Stoker's Wife.
I love Florence Stoker. She is an important character in my novel.

In compiling this list, I've realized that most of my posts really are about Stoker and Wilde. I hope you love them as much as I do.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Top Ten Terrible Valentines

"Greetings from Krampus,"
a German Christmas legend applied to Valentine's Day.
Not looking forward to Valentine's Day? Consider a Vinegar Valentine. Costing only a penny to send, Vinegar Valentines were also called 'Penny Dreadfuls.' An invention of the late-nineteenth century, they were typically sent unsigned.

These cards ridiculed the men and women who received them with equal abandon, poking fun at looks, faithfulness, greed, and one's ability to sing. I found hundreds of these cards, but the following ten are the best.

The things that fill your mind (?) we know
Candy, Flowers, Clothes, a necktie bow,
One fact these gew-gaws can't efface -
The mind they fill is empty space."
One day, walking out, you heard
Some fellow say, "Gee! She's a Bird!"
You did not see him when he winked,
And said, "That Bird SHOULD be extinct."'
"Here's a pretty cool reception,
At least you'll say there's no deception,
It says as plain as it can say,
Old fellow you'd best step away."
The card-playing maid is the
Her mind is on the cards
ev'ry minute;
If she loses the prize,
Oh, how deeply she sighs,
"Tis so awful not to be
in it!"'
I'd give all I have in the world,
To bask in the light of thine eyes;
But a lover more favored than I,
Has taught thee my suit to deny.
Alas! not a shadow of hope!
Then I must such beauty resign!
Oh! how I do envy the man
Who calls you his dear Valentine."
"The Suffragette Valentine
Your vote from me you will not get.
I don't want a preaching suffragette."
WHEN a pig's getting slaughtered, the noise that it makes
Is sweeter by far than your trills and your shakes;
And the howling of cats in the backyard at night,
Compared with your singing's a dream of delight.
Your equals and your bawls are such torture to hear.
A man almost wishes he had not an ear:
If someone would choke you, and thus end their pain.
Hearty thanks from your poor distressed neighbors he'd gain."
You slave and save and starve yourself
And I can't see the reason why
You've hoarded all those piles of money -
You can't take it with you when you die -"
"Oh! you ugly little thing
The sight of you's disinteresting
You should look worse if it were not
For your gaudy dressing
Just fancy calling you a page
You should be in an iron cage"
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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Hysteria, Highstrikes, and Hysterics

This post originally appeared on the blog of my Victorian Dictionary Project, 16 October 2014.

Though hysteria has a two thousand-year history of using women’s bodies to opress them, the term was first adopted by medical circles in 1801, as an adaptation of the latin hysteric. The concept of hysteria and hysterics profoundly influenced the lives of women throughout the nineteenth century, regulating them to asylums, and providing a source of comedy, as evidenced through the colloquialism high strikes, or highstrikes, a comedic mispronunciation of hysterics that was popularized soon after hysteria made it into medical journals.

Many people prefer to attribute hysteria’s origins to Hippocrates, but the term doesn’t show up anywhere in the Hippocratic corpus. The Hippocratic corpus did lay the ground work for wandering womb theory, which became linked to the supposed symptoms of hysteria, the way that epileptic seizures were linked to an ability to communicate directly with God. Like belief in these conversations with God, wandering womb theory hung around in Europe for centuries.

Throughout the nineteenth century, hysteria was promoted as a medical condition caused by disturbances of the uterus (from the Greek ὑστέρα hystera “uterus”). Hysteria was often used to describe postpartum depression, but could be used to diagnose any characteristic people disliked about any particular woman. Historian, Laura Briggs, demonstrated how one Victorian physician compiled a seventy-five page list of possible symptoms of hysteria, and still called the list incomplete.

Because of hysteria’s use (and abuse) as a medical catchall, and an improved understanding of the body, hysteria is no longer a legitimate medical diagnosis. When we use the term today, we usually use it as part of the phrase mass hysteria to describe the way the people who watch Fox News react to things like ebola.

However, terms, like highstrikes, currently appear in the manuscript of the Dictionary of Victorian Insults & Niceties. The inclusion of such loaded terms fills me with a sense of responsibility to instruct my readers on the appropriate use of such terms, which is an exercise that no dictionary I’ve ever read has ever participated in.

As I edit, I find myself including notes that explain the connotations of such words, but I wonder if there are some words that shouldn’t be included at all.

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Sunday, January 18, 2015

Oscar Wilde's Underpants

Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months. - Oscar Wilde
In an effort to shame me for my addiction to Cosmo, an old friend of mine used to love to throw this quote at me. He never really understood what it was that the Wildes hated about 'fashion.' It wasn't that they didn't want to look good. Both Oscar and Constance REALLY wanted to look good - they even called their meticulously decorated home 'House Beautiful.' Both Oscar and Constance edited women's magazines. Wilde even promoted a particular brand of underwear, but I'll get to that.

To the Wildes, and most of the cool people in their generation, fashion had victims. The most obvious were the workers that the industry exploited. By the 1880s, opponents of the fashion industry began including animals and birds as victims of the fashion industry because they were (are still) killed for their skin and feathers. The people, especially the women, who gave in to the seductive power of the mainstream fashion industry of the 1880s and 90s were also victims, according to the Rational Dress Society.

Constance was the mouthpiece of the Rational Dress Society, as editor of 'The Rational Dress Society Gazette.' Both she and Oscar were well-known for their support of Rational Dress, also called "Hygienic Dress," which made them persuasive spokespeople for alternative fashion designers. It was in this capacity that Oscar Wilde promoted Dr Jaeger's Hygienic Woolen Underwear, which in turn became the underwear of choice for intellectuals and aesthetes in the 1890s.

A Dr Jaeger imitator in Winnipeg (1907).
Dr Jaeger's became so popular that there were imitators, who claimed to be manufacturing underwear using the Dr Jaeger system, or would simply call their under Jaeger Underwear.

So, it wasn't that Oscar hated fashion. He mostly just hated the unethical practices of the fashion industry.

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Friday, January 9, 2015

A Hand-Bag?

Jack.  I am afraid I really don’t know.  The fact is, Lady Bracknell, I said I had lost my parents.  It would be nearer the truth to say that my parents seem to have lost me . . . I don’t actually know who I am by birth.  I was . . . well, I was found.
Lady Bracknell.  Found!
Jack.  The late Mr. Thomas Cardew, an old gentleman of a very charitable and kindly disposition, found me, and gave me the name of Worthing, because he happened to have a first-class ticket for Worthing in his pocket at the time.  Worthing is a place in Sussex.  It is a seaside resort.
Lady Bracknell.  Where did the charitable gentleman who had a first-class ticket for this seaside resort find you?
Jack.  [Gravely.]  In a hand-bag.
Lady Bracknell.  A hand-bag?
Jack.  [Very seriously.]  Yes, Lady Bracknell.  I was in a hand-bag—a somewhat large, black leather hand-bag, with handles to it—an ordinary hand-bag in fact.
Lady Bracknell.  In what locality did this Mr. James, or Thomas, Cardew come across this ordinary hand-bag?
Jack.  In the cloak-room at Victoria Station.  It was given to him in mistake for his own.
Lady Bracknell.  The cloak-room at Victoria Station?
Jack.  Yes.  The Brighton line.
Lady Bracknell.  The line is immaterial.  Mr. Worthing, I confess I feel somewhat bewildered by what you have just told me.  To be born, or at any rate bred, in a hand-bag, whether it had handles or not, seems to me to display a contempt for the ordinary decencies of family life that reminds one of the worst excesses of the French Revolution.  And I presume you know what that unfortunate movement led to?  As for the particular locality in which the hand-bag was found, a cloak-room at a railway station might serve to conceal a social indiscretion—has probably, indeed, been used for that purpose before now—but it could hardly be regarded as an assured basis for a recognised position in good society.
Early modern Europeans of both genders wore purses to carry coins. The handbag was an invention of the Victorian era. The word for it was popularized during Oscar Wilde's lifetime; a line of this famous scene from 'The Importance of Being Ernest' is the third recorded use in the Oxford English Dictionary.

In this scene, Wilde pulls apart the handbag, the railway, the premise for every good sensation novel, and the Victorian Era as a whole. Lady Bracknell says the "line is immaterial," but it is the more respectable of the two at Victoria Station at the time. Poor Jack is grasping at straws with this woman, who seems to be a Victorian institution in and of herself.

But I want to talk about the handbag. Lady Bracknell's line, "A hand-bag?" has been interpreted differently by once actress after another, beginning with Edith Evans, who, in the 1952 film, delivered the line with a loud mixture of condescension and astonishment.

At any rate, the establishment didn't crumble because of any Wilde's writings. Oddly, his private relationships bothered the world more. Handbags and trains seem far more commonplace now. What did the invention of the handbag signify for the nineteenth century? Why was it then that something more than a purse was needed?

The handbag was designed by request for use on the railway. In 1841, Doncaster butterscotch manufacturer, Samuel Parkinson ordered a set of luggage, and insisted on something specific to his wife's needs. Her purse was too small; its material too flimsy. Parkinson ordered his wife various hand-bags of different sizes for different occasions, and asked that they be made from the same leather as his cases and trunks, distinguishing them from the all-too-familiar carpetbags. Upon Parkinson's request, H. J. Cave of London then produced the first modern handbags, including a clutch and a tote.

Like many other things women said they wanted, critics complained that they were unnecessary, and damaging to a woman's health. Interestingly, in Wilde's play, Miss Prism's handbag is so similar to Mr Cardew's that the two were mixed up!

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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Charles Dickens and PTSD

Generally, I'm not a fan of reading contemporary ailments onto historical figures, but, while searching for more information on Bunbury, which is only remotely connected to my novel at this point, I came across Nicholas Daly's article on railway novels. The introduction to his article left me convinced that Charles Dickens had post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
On June 10, 1865 the London Times reported a "Dreadful RailwayAccidentat Staplehurst:10 Persons Killed-Upwards of 20 Wounded."One of the passengers, who had "a narrow escape . . . fortunately for himself and for the interests of literature,"was Charles Dickens. The previous day the 2:38 tidal train from Folkestone had come off the rails at the viaduct just outside Staplehurst. The track was being repaired at the time of the accident and a section of it had been taken up. Having read the wrong time-table, the foreman in charge of the repairs did not expect the train for another two hours, and by the time the train driver saw the flag man who was in the wrong place it was much too late to brake. The front of the train cleared the gap in the tracks, but the rest of the carriages plunged down into the river bed. Only one of the seven first-class carriages escaped the fall by being securely coupled to the second-class carriage in front. In that fortunate carriage were Charles Dickens, his mistress, Ellen Ternan, and her mother. Also present was the manuscript of Our Mutual Friend, which, famously, Dickens rescued from the precariouly balanced carriage, after first extricating the Ternans and offering assistance to the injured and dying. Ellen Ternan appears to have been hurt in the crash, but Dickens felt no ill-effects until he was back in London, when he describes himself as being "quite shattered and brokenup." "Shaken"is the word that he uses to describe his nervous condition in letter after letter. On June 10 he apologizes to Charles Lever that he "can't sign [his] flourish, being nervously shaken." On June 13, in a letter to Thomas Mitton, he describes himself as still reliving the original impact:" In writing these scanty words of recollection I feel the shake and I am obliged to stop." On June 21 he still feels "a little shaken in [his] nervous system by the terrible and affecting incidents of the late railway accident." And the effects lingered long after, as Peter Ackroyd describes:
["]The effect of the Staplehurst accident "tells more and more," [Dickens] noted in 1867, and then a year later he confessed that ". .. I have sudden vague rushes of terror, even when riding in a hansom cab, which are perfectly unreasonable but quite insurmountable." His son, Henry, recalled that "I have seen him sometimes in a railway carriage when there was a slight jolt. When this happened he was almost in a state of panic and gripped the seat with both hands." And Mamie remembered that ". .. my father's nerves never really were the same again ... we have often seen him, when travelling home from London, suddenly fall into a paroxysm of fear,  tremble all over, clutch the arms of the railway carriage, large beads of perspiration standing on his face, and suffer agonies of terror. We ... would touch his hand gently now and then. He had,  however, ... no idea of our presence"["] 
Although Dickens got off lightly in the accident itself, then, the original jolt seems to have left its mark on his body, to have filed itself away in his nervous system; he relived the event over and over, experiencing all the anxiety that he didn't feel at the time. He died on the anniversary of the crash five years later. As Wolfgang Schivelbusch notes, we can identify Dickens as one of the most famous victims of a peculiarly modem form of nervous after-effect: shock.

"Shock," specifically shell-shock after the First World War, was what helped modern doctors identify PTSD. PTSD is most common among veterans, but it can happen to anybody that has experienced a traumatic event. Symptoms usually become evident 1-3 months after the event. About half of all Americans with PTSD never seek treatment. About 21% of those who do get inadequate treatment.

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Saturday, January 3, 2015

Marriage Really Was The Answer To Everything

Eight posts ago, I started a series on 1890s male sexuality, and expected to wind up characterizing the 1890s gentleman and his sexy self as Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, but the novel itself can be read as a critique of societal expectations of male sexuality.
The strange sense of man's double being which must at times come in upon and overwhelm the mind of every thinking creature gives us the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and its posing and eliding of the issue of man, sliding as it does between male and human, between a sexual-instinctual problematic of masculinity and an undifferentiating psychological recognition of the beyond of consciousness, of ego and id. The story starts from the exclusion of the woman which is the condition of a questioning of the man and also its limitation, the specifics of difference are pulled back into general themes. The title, in fact, is misleading or, to put it another way, is itself one of the precautions and a symptom of the problem of representation: nothing about the story is really strange other than that it should be thought strange, the strange case of male sexuality is precisely unstrange by being made into this strange case which comes out of, works with the assumptions of, the given system of representation. Male sexuality is neither the foregone conclusion of animal passion nor the horror of an unspeakable darkness but once it is envisaged within this system that is all that can be said, all that is allowed.
I love-love-love this passage in Stephen Heath's "Psychopathia sexualis: Stevenson's Strange Case." I love the essay for what it is, and love this passage for how it speaks to this series of posts. For over a month now, I've been talking about male sexuality as if there is some difference between male sexuality and human sexuality, and I've been trying to limit the discussion of female sexuality. Picturing sexuality as animal passion, is it wrong to assume that there was any difference in sexuality 120 years ago? Surely, as animals we can't have changed that much.
Eugen Sandow

I began this series by discussing 1890s male body image. The ideal male form was characterized as much by ability as it was by form. Form, they had discovered, could be sculpted, and doctors were already refusing to treat obese patients.

In my discussion on sexual orientation, I showed you how they were inventing the modern concept of homosexuality. Men having sex with other men wasn't new, but the act of letting the action define who one was was new. Identities carry power. As a heterosexist society, 1890s London mobilized to limit the power of homosexual identities by outlawing it, and redefining it as a form of mental illness.  In spite of the homophobia that this gave rise to, I think that homosexual men in the 1890s were better off than the men who had no labels because they must have felt less alone.

Which brings me to my post on masturbation: everybody did it, but Victorians worked very hard to make each other feel bad about it. The rumors about what masturbation could do to your health were almost as bad as the remedies for masturbators. It was during this post that I felt the most like I would end up with a Jekyll and Hyde conclusion because it seemed that people feared sex so much that the most reasonable personal solution was to keep it a secret.

Thankfully, that's not generally what they were doing. Homosexuality wasn't the only new identity an 1890s guy could wear. People were trying out aestheticism, being a Bohemian, they were even switching religions, and inventing new religions. In many ways, the 1890s were like the 1960s, but people dressed better. It seems that they were even beginning to understand that the identity of 'man' or 'woman' is one that we create for ourselves, but the full realization of that notion still seems a long way off.

There were both male and female prostitutes, just like there have always been, but the motivation of male prostitutes was perceived differently from the motivation of female prostitutes, much the same way the idea of being a male porn star today is quite different from the idea of being a female porn star. My discussion on prostitution made it clearer to me that the main difference between 1890s male sexuality and 1890s female sexuality was the concept of agency.

Men were perceived as having these out-of-control sex drives, whereas women weren't supposed to have a sex drive at all. What little sex education existed in the 1890s existed exclusively for young men. On the other hand, all responsibility for the transmission of STDs fell on the heads of female prostitutes.

In many ways the increase in religious and spiritual feeling at the end of the 19th century can be linked to the Darwinian Revolution and the need some people felt to differentiate themselves from animals. Sex was viewed as a baser instinct, an act they had in common with every other mammal on the planet. Morality was used to condemn anything they didn't like, and science was frequently used to back those notions up. Disease could then be read as a moral failing, linked to the degeneration (rather than upward evolution) of mankind.

I couldn't talk about 1890s male sexuality without talking about women. Women were cast into a separate sphere, dressed up as a morally-outstanding potential wife/mother, taught to refuse all sexual advances, and portrayed as the antidote to all male sexual problems.

If Eugen Sandow was the perfect man, the perfect woman knew nothing about sex and was a virgin until the horrible night that she got married. Her life's ambition was to become a mother. The perfect woman had no aspirations outside of keeping a perfect house to raise her perfect children in. She would refuse sex to her husband whenever he asked for it, and would refuse to take her clothes off when they did it.

If you were a man and were less than perfect in any way, common sense of the day suggested you find that woman and marry her straight away because she would cure your masturbating, she would reduce your sex drive, and she would shape you into the kind of man who could carry a family of six on his shoulders.

Basically, women were needed to balance out the baser instincts of male sexuality and to harness his ambitious nature, while directing him along the right path in life. That path steered clear away from pornography, masturbation, and dirty pictures, and on toward a bland diet, lots of exercise, and kids to ignore. The kids were her responsibility.

We know, of course, from the biographies of nearly every writer ever mentioned in this blog that, even if this was the ideal, it was almost never the reality, and more married couples lived apart in England and Wales than in any other part of Europe. Like Jekyll and Hyde, there were probably some men who lived double lives, just as there are today, but for the most part, people couldn't help being whoever they were, even if society was working really hard to make them feel bad about it.

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Friday, January 2, 2015


Victorian sexuality can be approached from so many directions, including (but not limited to) body image, sexual orientation, masturbation, prostitution, sex education, disease, religion, marriage, and pornography. All of these aspects overlap and influence each other, creating tremendous diversity in attitudes toward sex at any given point in history. Each of these factors provide the context in which sexual identities are created. This post is the eighth in a series of posts that seek to explore that context from the 1890s with an emphasis on male sexuality.


What is pornography?
The definition of "pornography" is famously subjective. After all, one man's Venus de Milo is another man's masturbation aid. But researchers generally define the genre as material designed solely for sexual arousal, without further artistic merit. - source
When I started this series of posts, I foolishly thought it would be easy to tell you what pornography was, and though this particular post would contain a string of cheeky photos of women in corsets 120 years ago. I was wrong. Determining what counted as porn was as complicated in the 1890s as it is today. The only thing that has become clear is that Victorian society feared sexual arousal, and by extension the distribution and production of pornographic materials.

In 1885, the Society for the Suppression of Vice was absorbed into the National Vigilance Association. The National Vigilance Association (NVA) was inspired by the need to fight child prostitution. Toward the end of restricting the sale of pornographic material the NVA pursued stricter legislation, and published a pamphlet called Pernicious Literature (1889). 
There can be no two opinions that the dissemination of such vile books must do harm to the youth of the country, into whose hands such literature only too readily falls.
The tie between child prostitution and pornography was compelling in 1890s London. Between Jack the Ripper and the Eliza Armstrong Case, in which a thirteen year-old virgin was sold into sexual slavery, poor and working-class girls were in incredible danger. If you were a upper- or middle-class Victorian, these were the same girls who poured your tea and swept your floor at home. Restricting pornography was portrayed as preventing the corruption and victimization of such girls.

In hindsight, we picture the boys in the loading bay at Selfridges with a handful of dirty pictures (Mr Selfridge is a television show; I'm referring here to an episode in which the young men in the loading bay pass around some fairly tame pictures of women), and remember that this was the only form of sex education available to them. Victorians weren't oblivious to the instructive side of pornography. Doctors also fell victim to the anti-pornography laws for supplying educational material to their patients, such as the Fruits of Philosophy.

Although I definitely support Annie Bessant and Charles Bradlaugh's cause, I have to concede that the creepy reputation of the Victorian doctor was well-earned. Jack the Ripper suspect, Francis Tumblety claimed to be a doctor and sold pornography to supplement his income during the early years of his notorious career. I can't, however, say with any certainty what kind of pornography he was peddling.

Most sex manuals were considered pornographic. Poems and novels could also be considered pornographic and were identified as such by a yellow jacket. Yellow covers warned readers of pornographic content (most French novels sported yellow covers in London). These yellow novels were associated with the aristocrat and the aesthete. So, what about the boys in the loading bay of Selfridges?

Affordable pornography came in the form of pamphlets containing erotic stories, like "Intrigues and Confessions of a Ballet Girl" (1870), which was one of many. These pamphlets didn't have any explicit sex scenes. According to Allison Pease, "the cheaper the pornography, the less body and acts were portrayed." Erotic imagery was also an important part of the penny illustrated weeklies, "and a postcard set depicting a nude gymnast on the swing and trapeze could be purchased in the 1890s at a cost of one shilling for thirty-six poses."

Victorians were definitely kinky. There were sub-genres of pornography, just as there is today. Some of these sub-genres included BDSM (especially riding crops and leather), interracial, same-sex, bestiality, and many others.

Images like this (some with much more
nudity) were sold as cabinet cards.
Rule 34 applied in the Victorian era too; if it existed, there was porn of it. They invented the camera and immediately started taking dirty pictures.

Cabinet card. No date.
I even found Sasquatch porn. It was terrifying. I'm not sharing those pictures here.

And the idea that pornographic images were either hand-drawn or rather tame, like the burlesque photos that have been circulating around the internet, is wrong, very wrong. By the 1890s, pornographic images were could be very explicit, as seen in this auctioneer's photo set.

So, who was buying pornography in the 1890s and how much of it? Although they certainly weren't immune to pornography's allure, the middle-class viewed the poor and the aristocratic as hungry for vice. Unlike masturbation, I don't think every one does porn. The NVA said there could be no two opinions about the harmful effects of pornography, but there were varying definitions about what pornography was, as seen by the trials of Oscar Wilde. When does a poem become pornographic and what makes it so? Is pornography an art? Can art be pornographic?

Dracula 1st edition cover.
Bram Stoker's Dracula originally sported a yellow cover to warn readers of its pornographic contents, which elude the modern reader. Stoker never intended it to be pornographic. Of Dracula, Stoker wrote to William Ewart Gladstone that:
The book is necessarily full of horrors and terrors but I trust that these are calculated to “cleanse the mind by pity & terror.” At any rate there is nothing base in the book and though superstition is brought in with the weapons of superstition I hope it is not irreverent.
Considering him a friend, Stoker had already sent Gladstone, and many other friends, copies of the book. Although the book's cover was yellow, Stoker didn't seem to fear any social repercussions for a book he didn't consider pornographic.

Dracula was nothing compared to My Secret Life (1888).
The next night undressing, he showed me his prick, stiff, as he sat naked on a chair; it was an exceedingly long, but thin article; he told me about frigging, and said he would frig me, if I would frig him. He commenced moving his hand quickly up and down...
Some books were clearly pornographic, just as they are today. In fact, the only difference between Victorian porn and modern porn is that Victorian porn was lower tech, and more people were 'morally' against it. If you have any further insight, please leave a comment.

I will be writing one more post in this series on 1890s male sexuality, in which I plan to connect the different aspects of what influenced sexuality together, concluding this series.

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