> Skip to content

One of our leading historians describes how Georgian London was shaped by the sex industry

Georgian London evokes images of elegant buildings and fine art, but it was also a city where prostitution was rife, houses of ill repute widespread, and many tens of thousands of people dependent in some way or other on the wages of sin. The sex industry was, in fact, a very powerful force indeed, and in The Secret History of Georgian London, Dan Cruickshank compellingly shows how it came to affect almost every aspect of life and culture in the capital.

Examining the nature of the sex trade and the sort of people who became involved in it, he looks at the ways in which it shaped Georgian London. He offers a tantalising insight into the impact of prostitution to give us vivid portraits of some of the women who became involved in the world of prostitution. And he discusses the very varied attitudes of contemporaries – those who sympathised, those who indulged, and those who condemned. As Dan Cruickshank powerfully argues, these women, and many thousands like them, shaped eighteenth-century London, and they also helped determine its future development.

Reviews

I heartily recommend this scholarly romp through the bordellos, inns and prisons of Henry Fielding's and John Wilkes's London

A.N. Wilson, Reader's Digest

Fascinating ... Cruickshank removes the bland façade to expose one of London's biggest and most lively industries - its trade in sex ... a lively and scholarly panorama of Georgian London before the sex trade was chased underground by the Victorians and we all became prudish instead

Daily Mail

This is a colossal melting pot of a book: ambitious, rigorously researched, vigorously narrated and marvellously illustrated. All of life is here, but not as we know it

Sunday Times

The author paints an illuminating, eye-opening and generous account of the capital's courtesans, harlots, bath-houses and brothels. A book to read by the light of a flickering candle

Nigel Slater, Telegraph

Dan Cruickshank enters this world with relish ... the book's capaciousness and breadth is tremendous, providing much to fascinate, provoke and inform

Country Life

An original and engaging history of the capital ... Cruickshank pieces together [the] evidence with meticulous care to create a compelling portrait

Sunday Telegraph

Richly informative ...This is a monumental work which leaves no stone unturned in its quest to create a full and brutally honest picture of the lives of Georgian London's dispossessed ... The result is a broad panorama and a compelling thesis which can be considered a commendable contribution to scholarship, as well as a gripping read

BBC History Magazine

Engagingly and comprehensively assembled. Dan Cruickshank is a humane guide ... His relish for the subject is clear but so too is his understanding of the harsh price often exacted

Literary Review

Cruickshank brilliantly sketches the wild whirligig of drunkenness, debauchery, theft, exploitation, merriness, subversion, corruption, lust, fantasy, violence, disease, starvation and early death

Telegraph

Witty, elegantly written and memorable

Architectural Review

Belle de Jour for the 18th century. Funny, fantastical, full of impossible facts and scandalous stories. Scholarly, but also the ideal stocking (and suspender) filler

Jeanette Winterson, Guardian

Read More

Formats & editions

  • Paperback

    9780099527961

    October 1, 2010

    Windmill Books

    672 pages

    RRP $35.00

    Online retailers

    • Amazon
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Dymocks
    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    • The Nile
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook

    9781407089515

    July 1, 2010

    Cornerstone Digital

    672 pages

    Online retailers

    • Amazon Kindle AU
    • iBooks
    • Google Play EBook AU
    • Kobo Ebook
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks

Also by Dan Cruickshank