Peakman collects eight previously published articles and book chapters, plus two new articles based on earlier shared material, in this new volume of her writings. The work, all produced in the last fifteen years, combines to paint a portrait of British sexual culture in the eighteenth century as various and shifting. “There was no one coherent attitude to sex in the eighteenth century,” Peakman argues (147). Old and new beliefs, the enlightened and the bawdy, the normative and the perverse coincided and competed.

Peakman’s focus on sexual culture leads her to explore a wide range of sources, which in turn substantiate her argument about the diversity of eighteenth-century attitudes. Individual chapters examine whores’ biographies, courtesans’ memoirs, erotic gardens, medical texts, manuscript letters, and pornography. Peakman describes her work as taking a “multidisciplinary approach,” although all the chapters fit comfortably within the framework of cultural history (xiii).

Despite the diversity of...

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