Interesting Onwards to the next book in the series, now. Tales of debauchery This is a very entertaining look at the underground and sometimes right out in the open sexual history of London, from Roman Londinium to the modern era In its 2000 years of existence, London has seen it all, and there are many surprises here The first chapter on Roman London suffers a bit from an apparent lack of local evidence, and so it includes a lot of speculation based on generalities of urban life in the empire, and the extreme depravity of the Caesars which she cites as setting a social standard in Britannia questionable However, the account becomes much lively and detailed with the second chapter on Medieval London, and remains fascinating to the end Some of the accounts almost defy belief Every stripe of sexuality, every kink, and every variety of commercial sex seem to be well documented from that early period onwards, and there s much to surprise even a well read lay English historian Many famous names figure in the telling, and the stories of their secret sex lives will amaze you Famous crimes and scandals also are detailed, including the stories of Jack the Ripper, the trials of Oscar Wilde, the Profumo affair but others less well known today are equally fascinating Highly recommended to those interested in social history, especially its underground criminal side or for anyone who enjoys a good titillating read. Sex, sex, sex From prostitutes to pornography, from orgies to lewd sex acts today s vices are not new by any means This coarse world has always been center stage in human civilization since the dawn of man and heavily recorded starting with the Roman Empire The city of London has never shied away from its obsession with carnal desire even during the restricted Victorian period Pop historian Catharine Arnold explores the sex history of London in, The Sexual History of London From Roman Londonium to the Swinging City Lust, Vice, and Desire Across the Ages.Arnold s The Sexual History of London is a pop history romp attempting to overview the bawdy side of England s capital throughout the ages By no means is this meant to be an all inclusive, exhaustive academic piece but rather a saucy and entertaining expose and introduction to the topic The outline of The Sexual History of London follows a chronological study which helps the reader grasp and value the material Arnold pumps a lot of pack into her punch and instantly bombards with information facts This, however, can become clunky and cluttered, at times, as Arnold comes off almost over eager The text thesis isn t always clear and Arnold s direction is often muddled The Sexual History of London is a bit too much and certainly needs a strong editing job That being said, The Sexual History of London is still quite readable, accessible, and moves with a firm pace Although it is clear that Arnold conducted ample research her writing style is concise but not dry or scholarly The issue arising with this is one of fact checking Arnold states incorrect facts and makes misrepresentations with conviction that A any English history aficionado can validate as incorrect and B isn t properly sourced Arnold is a bit off her base Plus, she also has the tendency to make flowery statements with no place in a history piece such as, Elizabeth peacocked about like a drag queen, surrounded by her coterie of mincing ministers This flashy statement is better suited for a historical fiction piece Some readers may find it off putting that Arnold insists on occasionally personally commenting the text a la, In this chapter, we will discuss and Next, we move to This writing style is slightly amateur and unnecessary The latter chapters of The Sexual History of London intrigue in the sense of focusing on contemporary case studies such as Jack the Ripper and scandals from the 80s Yet, even within this, Arnold manages to be repetitive and the pace of The Sexual History of London slackens and loses its tautness The piece feels distracted and as though Arnold simply drags out the text needlessly The Sexual History of London enlists occasional photos and illustrations, supplementing the text no photo plates, though Sadly, the concluding chapter of The Sexual History of London fails to either summarize the book or take a strong look at the current and or future sexual state of the city of London Consequentially, this results in a weak ending lacking any memorable points Arnold does include a bibliography highlighting some source materials but no annotated notes Arnold s The Sexual History of London is a colorful romp on the subject matter but serves only as an introduction and pop history The text content is a bit clumsy and highly repetitive thus not necessarily being scholarly or an emotional read The Sexual History of London is recommended for readers interested in a middle grade read on the subject matter to all things sex in London but don t expect a ground breaking work. With such a titillating title, the reader might want to use a book cover when reading it in public However, this is a serious look at the sex trade in London from the time that it was called Londinium and the Romans brought their camp followers to Britain until modern times and the use of the internet for advertising.London had prostitutes than any city in the 17th 19th centuries Poverty was rampant and girls had to go on the game to survive Of course, there were the high class ladies who had a wealthy protector who supported them and who retired with property and riches But the majority of the working girls were pathetic, dirty and disease ridden and seldom lived past age 35 There were periods when the authorities cracked down on the profession and there were times when it was basically ignored as the government had economic issues which took precedence At one time the penalty for homosexuality was death but usually a blind eye was turned to that particular form of vice The hypocrisy of the Victorians, fueled by the myth of white slavery , was spectacular those who availed themselves of the services of the prostitutes were also the ones who were heading up committees to stamp it out.This is an interesting social study of the victimless crime where the only victims were the girls who were forced into the street to avoid dying of starvation. Catherine Arnold s City of Sin London and its Vices is an entertaining history of the sex industry in London.Arnold takes us back as far as Roman times, and is concerned mostly with prostitution although pornography is dealt with in passing She encompasses every level of prostitution in her story, from the humbles streetwalkers to the most expensive and successful courtesans like Nell Gwyn and Skittles.The author does her best to give her subject matter an even handed treatment She doesn t gloss over the unpleasantness of life for those at the bottom of the heap of the profession although she makes it clear that quite often it was the most attractive of a range of not terribly good options And she also doesn t deny that for those at the top life could be very sweet indeed Catherine Walters known popularly as Skittles was a major celebrity of the Victorian era and died a very wealthy woman in her luxury London townhouse at an advanced age For courtesans like Skittles the wages of sin were very lucrative indeed.To her credit the author also doesn t attempt to demonise the clients of prostitutes.Those who come off worst in this history are the short sighted and often very creepy moral reformers whose efforts generally end up making life worse for those they claim to be trying to protect The Victorian journalist and self appointed moral guardian W T Stead being a case in point and it s pleasing to be able to report that he came to a bad end.An entertaining piece of social history and definitely worth seeking out. After reading K.J Charles s tremendously fun historical gay romance novel, Unfit to print , I wanted nothing than to find out about Victorian pornography and prostitution Luckily, I had Catharine Arnold s City of Sin London and Its Vices in my library, so I dived into it City of Sin is a 333 page description of mostly prostitution in London, starting from Roman times and ending in about 2009 the book itself is a bit longer, however, due to the references at the end And that would be great, but there isn t enough room to cover things in detail, so it can be a bit hard to truly feel the differences in lifestyle between various ages In short, prostitutes tended to be accepted today, shunned tomorrow, their services were sought out even while they were blamed for the spread of venereal disease, they could earn a lot or barely get by, and the higher up in the hierarchy they were, the likely they were not to be prosecuted for their profession Flagellation became a popular English kink at some point the 18th c., perhaps , especially for the upper classes The book is a bit unbalanced the Romans go by in the blink of an eye, but the 18th and 19th get about 200 pages, after which history moves forward at high speed again, when we get to hear a few sex scandals from the beginning of the 20th century instead of prostitution at large the current day goes by in another blink of an eye.At first, I was happy to see there are pictures in it, but after a while it felt as if some of the pictures were random we get a photo of Marie Stopes, birth control pioneer and author of one of the first sex manuals according to the caption , but we often only get descriptions of famous images, with the author telling us what is going on in them I had to resort to the internet for those While I m not entirely sure all the information here is accurate indeed, Oscar Wilde s death is listed as taking place in 1901, instead of 1900 , and while it feels like there are many gaps, Catharine Arnold writes a compelling book, especially if you don t try to read it all at once It s fun, it offers a broad view of the subject, it has a few interesting cases and details and it s easy to read. Written with an easy style that informs as well as entertains, City of Sin is an eagle eyed view of the English branch of the world s oldest profession through the ages, from the first girls brought in chains to our shores for the sport of the Romans, right up to modern sex workers advertising on the internet, scoring publishing deals and causing the Daily Mail to work themselves into self righteous froths.Taking in those who chose to enter the profession as well as those forced into in through one means or another, from the poorest street walker to the semi celebrity kept mistresses and courtesans as well as the pimps, bawds and others making money from them, this is a fascinating trip through the ages and the changing attitudes towards sex Eye opening and, at times, eye watering details such as when contemplating the ancient condoms carved from tortoiseshell that the Chinese apparently had to endure all paint a vivid picture of a city with a voracious sexual appetite, as do some of the wonderful names of those serving that appetite, as in the delightful case of Clara la Clatterballock.Also tracking the many hypocritical attempts by the authorities during the ages to shut the trade down while continuing to avail themselves of the mind boggling array of different types of prostitutes that served the city, City of Sin also serves as a good snapshot of the ways in which those in power have always held themselves above the laws and morality they sought to impose on the lower classes, many of which massively increased the dangers faced by those that sell their bodies City of Sin one of a number of books that Catharine Arnold has written on different aspects of London s history I ve already read Necropolis and Bedlam, on how London has dealt with its dead and its mad through the ages, and still have Underworld and its criminal side waiting on my shelves If you re at all interested in London and its history but want something easy going enough to read on holiday, you could do a lot worse than spending some time in Arnold s company Also posted at Cannonball Read 9 I enjoyed the style of writing of this, however I was a bit disappointed I thought this book was going to than the history of prostitution and written erotica , but no, it appears to be p much only that I really thought it d touch on a whole lot of other stuff as vice is a pretty broad word There is so, so, so much interesting stuff that was left out, drugs, alcoholism, crime, etc but it only seems to explore these things, if at all, with the different types of prostitutes It s also quite late 18th century 19th century focused, which I can understand because a lot of this requires evidence, but still, bit of a shame, and unfortunately it causes it to become a bit repetitive. A sometimes interesting, sometimes insightful and sometimes boring dive into the life of prostitutes in London since the roman times of Londinium until the recent times of Belle du Jour Unfortunately, as the topic is quite vast, one cannot expect an exhaustive dive into the topic sometimes you get the feeling that Catharine Arnold stretches the topic needlessly while at other times, the topic is brushed off fast, to move on to the next thing.So the book is, in the end, inconsistent but I think it s a strong starting point for anyone exploring the topic of attitudes towards sex of a particular city, but the subject is rushed especially when it comes to the victorian times and onwards The lack of focus and sometimes the repetitive prose can become quite tedious, and at times I felt the need to skip some pages The Tudors are dealt with in detail, albeit in a repetitive manner, while I think that the Victorian age and the XXth century are rushed, incomplete, and would have deserved a lot But that would ve transformed a 300 pages book in a 1000 pages tome which probably would ve been impractical and predictably boring The structure, the chapters themselves, are rarely consistent, as sometimes they span centuries while other times they treat a certain trait of an age.I like the fact that there are no pre drawn conclusions the author is trying to keep a scientists distance from the things she discusses in the book, and that makes things better At the same time the reading can be fun some adventures are detailed and explained in a clear, clean manner Also I think that the big number of references is helpful for anyone interested in finding out about the things discussed in the book All in all an enjoyable read. For Over A Thousand Years, England S Capital Has Been Associated With Desire, Avarice And The Sins Of The Flesh In This Text, Catharine Arnold Turns Her Gaze To The City S Relationship With Vice Through The Ages She Takes Us On A Journey Through The Fleshpots Of London From Earliest Times To Present Day
Catharine Arnold read English at Cambridge and holds a further degree in psychology A journalist, academic and popular historian, Catharine s previous books include the novel Lost Time , winner of a Betty Trask award Her London trilogy for Simon Schuster comprises of Necropolis London and Its Dead , Bedlam London and Its Mad and City of Sin London and Its Vices.
- 384 pages
- City of Sin: London and its Vices
- Catharine Arnold
- 07 May 2019 Catharine Arnold