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Eroticised Spanking

Page history last edited by Susannah Green 6 years ago

Eroticised Spanking

Spanking and Sexuality in Eighteenth Century England

 O.E.D.: noun, The action of beating or slapping with the open hand by way of punishment.

First recorded use: Anne Elizabeth Baker · Glossary of Northamptonshire words and phrases · 1st edition, 1854 (2 vols.).

First recorded in explicitly sexual context: John Camden Hotten’s dictionary of modern slang, cant, and vulgar words used at the present day, preceded by a history of cant and vulgar language, with glossaries of two secret languages, by a London antiquary · 1859.

Not recorded in asexual/solely disciplinary context until 1868

O.E.D. Sadism noun: Enthusiasm for inflicting pain, suffering, or humiliation on others; spec. a psychological disorder characterized by sexual fantasies, urges, or behaviour involving the subjection of another person to pain, humiliation, bondage, etc.

O.E.D. Masochism noun: The urge to derive pleasure, esp. sexual gratification, from one's own pain or humiliation; the pursuit of such pleasure. Also in weakened sense: deliberate pursuit of or enthusiasm for an activity that appears to be painful, frustrating, or tedious.

O.E.D. Algolagnina The practice of deriving pleasure, esp. sexual pleasure, from pain inflicted on oneself or others; the urge or tendency to derive pleasure in this way.



This Wiki will explore eighteenth century England as the origin of eroticised violence, and particularly the practise of eroticised spanking. The product of my research will largely assert that eroticised spanking first came into common practice among eighteenth century English society due to the increased presence of violence within society as well as the unique combination of prohibition and licence granted to sexuality. As my research overwhelming identifies the eighteenth century as the origin of nativity of this practise- or at least, its acceptance into common practise- the practise of erotic spanking presents a unique prism through which to examine the psychological developments of eighteenth century English society through the most intimate means possible. This Wiki will examine the association then clearly established between pain and pleasure and social norms in gendered relationships, before a brief examination of the legacy left by eroticised spanking and its prevalence in the early to mid-nineteenth century.


Section One: Context

Casualisation of Violence

·       Prior to the term ‘spanking’ being coined in the nineteenth century there was no specific term, although there was undoubtedly a sexualised epidemic of corporal punishment- particularly of striking the buttocks as, prior to the advent of neuroscience and the discovery of the sciatic nerve, it was believed no serious damage/injury could be caused.

·       Age in which violence was prevalent, particularly among the oppressed working class. Psychologically this may be attributed to a sense of impotence among the working class following an increasing discrepancy in the resources available to the lowest classes, as was evident in the thirty years disparity between the average life expectancies of the lowest and highest. In 1797 Frederick Morton, a Humanist, published his thesis ‘The State of the Poor’ in which he attempted to expose the poverty of England’s poorest, in 1798 Thomas Matthus published his response, ‘Essay on Population’ in which he argued that the true issue was not the conditions of the poor, but the size of the population. He argued that, for the strongest Britain, it was essential that this epidemic of poverty be allowed to take its course- and the poorest be allowed to perish from starvation, exposure and insalubrious living conditions.

·       It was popularly theorized at the time by leading public figures (e.g. Andrew Young) that, for Britain to continue to grow in power and prosperity at the top end, the poor must be kept poor and harshly disciplined for every transgression. Corporal and eventual capital punishment was considered a public spectacle at this time: the primary purpose of this was to intimidate the remaining population into submission however the eighteenth century also saw the beginning of a specific interest in humiliation as punishment. In 1778 Jeremy Bentham proposed the first work houses in which the poor were forced to labour for as long as they were physically able every day; he personally designed uniforms intended to humiliate the wearer as much as possible and initiated the practise of tattooing the name and address of the workhouse on all their labourers. Bentham also designed the Panopticon- a style of prison which allowed the observer to see all prisoners at all time whilst preventing the prisoners from seeing either their jailor or any other prisoners- it was the most extreme form of solitary confinement ever proposed and, as such, was never initiated in England. Bentham also devoted much of his time to pioneering psychological torture and was deeply interested in creating “snitches” within prisons using the well-established system of reward and punishment.

·       English psychology was therefore largely considered to be a form of pressure-cooker at this point; European visitors frequently noted with horror the sombre, paranoid mood which seemed to characterise and prevail over the English psyche.  

·       The most popular sports were inherently violent and most frequently consisted of animals fighting each other to death. Several noteworthy psychologists have judged this to be reflective of a sense of extreme impotence among the population and the desire to exact power over any other being. Whilst these sports were characteristically for the entertainment of the lowest classes, the middle and upper classes were noted for their obsession with bloodsports by their European counterparts.



Treatment of Women

·       With poverty at an all-time high there was very little availability for social advancement. One such possibility for young women, however, was to seek employment in London. Frequently, however, this resulted in the young women being turned to prostitution or, if they were marginally more fortunate, to become the mistresses of wealthy patrons. Tales of ‘Fallen Women’, commonly referred to as ‘Whore Narratives’ abounded and there was a great public approbation of female licentiousness belied by its tacit compliance and the renewed fascination indicated by its increased artistic portrayal. For young women travelling to London, unaccompanied for the first time seeking employment, there was a 10/1 chance of their being seduced within a year- that is, becoming prostitutes, courtesans or concubines.

·       In 1750 a country gentleman placed an advert in ‘The Daily Advertiser’ seeking a wife- it was the first advert of its kind ever to appear in a publication, however many others soon followed. This gentleman’s requirements in his future wife provide a unique insight into the eighteenth century’s most desirable woman. The list includes: tall, plump, sound constitution, vivacious without being mischievous, sensible without being intelligent. Above all else, absolutely had to enjoy sex- once or even twice a day. The particular gentleman who placed this advertisement was in his late fifties and seeking a wife between thirty-four and forty-six.

·       In 1779 Dr. Alexander noted with some satisfaction the particular compassion and lenience with which Englishmen characteristically treated the women in their charge; particularly in comparison to their European counterparts. Dr. Alexander believed that the ability to treat the gentler sex with such tenderness was indicative of a refined and deeply civilised Christian nation.

·       Spinsterhood was regarded as a highly undesirable limbo and was widely regarded as synonymous; it was commonly said that a woman who did not wish to be the property of one man must wish to be the property of all.


Gender and Relationships

·       It has also been noted, however, by several renowned scholars (see bibliography) that eighteenth century society was gripped by the fear of female domination. In previous centuries the obedience and chastity of the native women had been considered a great source of national pride however in the eighteenth century there was a sense of slowly growing feminine power- arguably resulting from the Civil Wars, the Interregnum and the greater responsibilities women had been forced to embrace in the absence of present, reliable male authority.

·       By the beginning of the eighteenth century the figure most derided throughout both literature and theatre was that of the henpecked, cuckolded husband.

·       Growing public concern over the possibility of ‘petticoat government’ that is, a society ruled by women or in which women have excessive authority over the male. Increasingly it appeared as though politicians and nobles were allowing themselves to be controlled by their wives, mothers and mistresses. Whilst Englishmen considered themselves content to treat their wives and daughters with exemplary leniency, they were loath to grant them any true power.

·       The most famous courtesan of the eighteenth century, Kitty Fisher, famously burnt £1000 (£560,300.00) to demonstrate her contempt for the patriarchal belief that a man may own her.

·       Eighteenth century courtship a battle for dominance between male and female; female in power until she succumbs sexually.





·       In 1782 Judge John Buitler ruled that it was legal for a husband to beat his wife if the width of the cane did not exceed the width of his thumb. Less than an hour later there was a roaring trade in standardised canes- the majority were sold to men from working-class backgrounds.

·       Despite this, however unpleasant marriage was for some wives it was widely considered preferential to the uncertainty of spinsterhood. It was far easier for a husband to divorce his wife for a single episode of infidelity, but difficult for a wife to divorce her husband for habitual adultery.

·       Throughout the eighteenth century it was not uncommon for men from the lowest classes to sell their wives at market with nooses around their necks; whereas members of the gentry could dispose of their unwanted wives with acts of parliament, the lowest classes decided to sell theirs. Middle class couples, however, who could not obtain a formal divorce from parliament but would not countenance selling their wives at market, were forced to stay together. Thus middle class wives may be unhappy but financially secure.

·       Patriarchal right to use corporal punishment for the correction of his wife established in Common Law and, in the late seventeenth century, still common practise among the lower orders. James II regularly struck his wife in public however Charles II declared it tasteless to do so and declared the practise deeply ignoble.

·       T. Bertholius, an Italian seventeenth century philosopher stated that a husband’s affection for his wife is revealed through light marital beatings- evidencing his care for her moral correction. Bertholius also believed that this concern for a wife’s spiritual wellbeing was a suitable prelude to sexual consummation, light spanking frequently invoking an automatic sexual response. 


Desire to Punish Women

The eighteenth century is frequently noted for its exponential population growth- naturally, being before the advent of sufficient birth control. As such, unwanted pregnancies and children abounded and one major consequence of this was that women would frequently find themselves responsible for children they never wanted and were ill equipped to care for. As such, it became frequent practise for mothers to strike their children- usually across the buttocks where it was supposed the child would suffer the least lasting damage. As, in this age of female submission, boys were more likely to behave boisterously they were also the most likely to receive corporal punishment. In many young boys this was likely to have produced feelings of anger, resentment and impotence as they aged and psychologists have argued the male desire to enact this punishment upon their sexual partners stems from the punishment they received from their mothers. 

There are also clear occasions of women being punished in a pseudo-sexual manner, for instance at Newgate prison female prisoners were charged two shillings and sixpence to keep their own clothes during their incarceration, otherwise they would be forcibly stripped and furthermore, whilst male and female prisoners were segregated at night, they were incarcerated together during the day. 


Section Two: Sexuality in the Eighteenth Century

·       Novels such as John Cleland's 'Fanny Hill' and the 'Marquis de Sade' as well as numerous others demonstrates the growing literary presence of sexuality within eighteenth century literature and it may be suggested that this is a direct result on increased censorship, both in literature and the social psyche. Furthermore, it has been noted throughout twentieth century scholarship that the sale and circulation of texts and materials considered pornographic during the eighteenth century greatly exceeded that which was didactic At this time, slightly more violent pornography or other specialised interest was considered largely continental and specifically French however this was demonstrably assimilated into the visual and literary pornography circulating England; pornography which depicted strangulation, whipping and (what would later become known as) spanking became increasingly popular. 

·        Following the decline of seventeenth-century Puritanism there was a palpable sense of sexual liberty across society, particularly the upper classes. The lower classes remained largely restricted by superstition and suspicion of the body- particularly its potential for corruption and sin. For many this may explain the increased appetite for violent pornography as, through the incorporation of pain the participants may have subconsciously sought penance and redemption for their perceived sexual transgressions.

·        The upper classes, however, appeared to reject Calvinist sexual values as widely as possible by delighting in the most shocking sexual conduct possible- to some extent there was a revival in Libertinism although this never really reached the popularity it enjoyed throughout the seventeenth century (see the poetry of Rochester). The era of the Enlightenment, however, caused a revival in Naturalistic philosophy and particularly that sexual desire, arising from natural impulses, is therefore inherently good. Erasmus Darwin alleged that sexual pleasure was a natural good, intrinsically beneficial to the function and wellbeing of society. As such, among the upper classes in particular, sexuality begin to be viewed positively rather than as a moral danger. Even visual pornography underwent a Renaissance of thought as, rather than being interpreted as an evidence of vice, Erasmus Darwin put forth the argument that sexually pleasing images actually allowed the individual to identify desirable traits in a sexual partner and thus choose which genes to propagate. 

·        Despite the sexual liberation brought about by the Enlightenment, however,  there nevertheless remained some element of sexual superstition as pamphlets containing spurious advice with regards to conception and virginity- for example, a biological means of proving female virginity or advising husbands bind either their left or right testicle to ensure the conception of a particular gender. 

·        The term 'nymphomania' was first coined as a diagnosis in 1769 in Dr. Cullen's 'Synopsis Methodicae'  as a disease of the uterus resulting in 'nervous' behaviour- that is, public licentiousness and an overstimulated imagination resulting in rampant sexuality. It was further supposed that nymphomania resulted from women enjoying excessive leisure time and luxuriant conditions resulting in their moral degeneration and increased liberty of imagination; it was believed that by restraining the imagination of women, particularly by restricting any external stimuli which may encourage sexual fantasies, the diagnoses of nymphomania may be avoided and reduced. Furthermore, whilst the diagnosis of nymphomania was widely accepted across Western Europe throughout the 1770s it nevertheless remained, in medical thought, a distinctly English ailment. 



Public Sexuality

·       Throughout the eighteenth century prostitution became an even more lucrative trade with an estimated 10,000 prostitutes on the streets of London alone, varying from sixpence an hour "harlots" (as the cheapest prostitutes were advertised in 'The Whoremonger's Guide to London') to kept courtesans whose income was not arbitrary and therefore impossible to calculate accurately. Furthermore, prostitution appears to have been practised quite openly, with the vast majority of prostitutes wearing a black velvet band around their throats to clearly advertise their profession and many more enacting their professional duties in Saint James' Park. Equally, however, the 1780s saw the formation of several societies dedicated to persecuting and eradicating public lewdness; the majority of this persecution, however, fell upon the lower classes as, not only were they less equipped to protect themselves from public persecution, but it was also feared that their dissolution would lead to anarchy. 

·        Despite this, however, sexual libertinism only extended to adult heterosexuals; adolescent sexuality and homosexuality still being widely reviled and, in some cases across Europe, punishable by law. Furthermore, heterosexual relations were largely constrained by social etiquette, the necessity of respectability and particularly rationality in all sexual conduct; whilst the visual pleasures of sexuality were emphasized and lauded, the concept of primal overwhelming sexuality was universally reviled. This is reflected in the way sexuality is described in much of the contemporary erotic literature- always in elevated language and avoiding curses. It may be argued, however, that the concept of taming one's sexuality to suit the social order is a triumph of Enlightenment rationality. 


Sexuality in Print

·       In the 1770s, by which time Enlightenment thinking had allowed the upper classes to obtain a much greater degree of sexual liberty, and this was reflected by the freedom with which sexuality was discussed in print. From the 1770s onwards pornographic journals begin to circulate London society, publications such as 'The Covent Garden Magazine' and the 'Amorous Repository'. As well as a marked increase in the availability and popularity of sexually explicit novels ('Fanny Hill', 'The Innocent Adultress', 'Fatal Follies', 'The Merry Order of Saint Bridget' etc.) sexuality also became a popular vehicle in political satire. 

·       This newfound liberty was still largely restricted to the more affluent classes, however, as the majority of erotic literature was priced between £4.00- £9.00 it was far beyond the affordable price range for the majority of British citizens. For reference, £4.00-£9.00 in 1750 is the equivalent of £816.00-£1836.00 in 2017 GBP however this may not necessarily be paid in a single instalment and could rather be paid in subscription form at approximately one shilling (£20.00) every two weeks. The cheapest literary erotica, however, was sold at one shilling however lacked both explicit eroticism and refinement and frequently circulated in pamphlet form; they are perhaps best described as vulgarised explanations of the biology and mechanics of the human reproductive systems. 

·       In order to avoid strict censorship many erotic novels and diagrams adopted the guise of medical or religious tracts. 


The Marquis de Sade- 1740-1814

·        Donatien Alphonse Francoise, Count de Sade was the son of a renowned Lieutenant- General and raised with all the trappings and advantages of privilege- nevertheless, from the onset of puberty he displayed frequent tendencies towards cruelty, purchasing a country retreat in the mid-eighteenth century from which he conducted many of his indiscretions.

·        His many violences against women, most frequently prostitutes, are very poorly documented as many of his victims were presumed to have been threatened or bribed into silence. It is known he had an interest in spanking, caning and whipping the buttocks of his victims as well as binding, blindfolding and gagging his victims in such a way as to render them completely helpless. Two prostitutes were also killed from ingesting the Marquis’ aphrodisiac, Spanish Fly- Spanish Fly is, in fact, a lethal poison called Cantharadin.




 Section Three: Pain and Pleasure

The Ecstasy of Martyrs

·       The first ever recorded public punishments- ancient Greece- explicitly associated pain with pleasure. The pain of the sacrificial victim (N.B. suffering and not death was the intention) was believed to give the respective god great pleasure, and thus both the willing victim and the witnessing crowd would experience vicarious pleasure through this. The greater the torment inflicted upon the victim, the greater pleasure the god was reported to feel and thus the greater the pleasure experienced by victim and bystanders. As such, it was a great source of pride for both tormentor and victim to inflict and experience the maximum pain possible, and for both to exhibit the marks upon the victim’s body; it was an experience that uniquely bonded both participants.

·       The later concept of religious flagellation and the ecstasy of martyrs and self-flagellators (particularly within Christianity) may be traced to this tradition and the desire to gratify the divine through chastisement of mortal flesh. It constitutes both a pact between the divine and mortal and thus provides spiritual gratification for physical suffering.

·       The notion of striking a person across the buttocks was first propositioned by the Catholic church as punishment for ‘Lower Order Offences’ in the tenth century- failure to demonstrate proper respect during religious ceremonies for example. In this case the victim would be struck with hand or cane (depending on the victim’s age, sex and constitution) over their clothes buttocks by religious senior. The most common punishment dispensed by the Catholic church up until the 1960s was that of spanking; Papal punishments were not recorded after this time. 

·       In the eleventh century, the Catholic church prescribed and legitimised spanking and self-flagellation as a legitimate outlet for sexual desires, intended to both satisfy and discourage further sexual urges. Several high-profile Saints, Hermits etc. engaged in this: Peter the Hermit, Saint Dominic, Catrerina of Cordova. Religious brotherhoods dedicated to flagellating each other as a form of bonding experience.

·       In 1350 Pope Clement V outlawed flagellation as a means of Christian discipline owing to the Paris incident: a procession through the streets of naked penitents, castigating one another, had devolved into an orgy.

·       The most enthusiastic practitioners were nuns, however, for whom flagellations became weekly events. It became common for novices and young nuns to bear themselves for correction and lessons in submission: for this they were stripped naked and paraded before the superior nuns before being bent over and struck on the buttocks with the flat of their superior’s hand. A Florentine nun, known only as Elizabeth and indicated to be in her mid twenties at the time of the report, spoke of her spiritual delight at receiving such punishment however her report appeared to contain heavily sexual connotations “love, o love my soul!”

·       Margaret Anson, 'The Merry Order of Saint Bridget' (1854) written from the perspective of a young female novitiate and spoke in eroticised detail of the flagellations she received and witnessed.


Violence within Sex

Eighteenth century sexuality was frequently categorised as a battle for dominance in which the female was necessarily passive and the male necessarily aggressor, invading and carrying out assault upon female body. Arousing behaviours usually carried out during foreplay on the female body may also be noted for vaguely violent connotations- for example, “love bites”. Furthermore, neuroscience appears to indicate that the greater the aggression with which these actions are performed, the greater the female erotic response.

Spanking and Sexuality

The literary trend throughout the eighteenth century demonstrated a clear evolution towards what would later become known as BDSM (bondage, domination, sado-masochism) and novels such as 'The Monk' thrived from their depiction of young women degraded and punished for varying transgressions. The 'Medmenham Monks' was a gentlemen's club, open from seven in the evening several nights a week, which catered almost exclusively to the desire to witness beautiful young women being degraded and flagellated either by each other or by their madam (i.e., their employer). 

Male Desire for Spanking

Iwan Bloch, a young man in his twenties, spent much of the 1860s touring London brothels seeking the perfect spanking- his ultimate desire was to fall unconscious from pain and expressed the pathological need for punishment, for which his own many attempts had been insufficient. It seems likely that, throughout the guilt and paranoia which categorised eighteenth century England, many men suffered from this pathological burden of guilt, for which they sought relief by means of corporal punishment.

It is also possible, however, that for some men spanking was the only sexual gratification they were able to obtain- or at least the most potent. The epidemic of several venereal diseases combined with the refined penchant for equestrian sports and the various medical consequences of an overly luxurious diet caused some men to experience greatly reduced blood flow to the buttocks and genitals- for some men this even caused erectile dysfunction and even impotence. As such, the sharp repeated blows to their backside and surrounding area would be likely to produce the greatest bloodflow such men were capable of and may be a necessary prelude to sexual activity.

Finally, it has been suggested by several psychologists that for homosexual gentlemen unwilling to indulge in their desires owing to religious convictions, spanking may have provided the anal stimulation they desired.


Section Four: The Visible Legacy- early 19th century spanking and sexuality

 The leading Brothels in nineteenth century London were run by several madams:

Mrs. James

Mrs. Collett

Mrs. Beverly of Bond Street

Mrs. Sarah Porter


The most common requests across these brothels

1.)   To spank a lithe, slender young woman- preferably dressed as a Vestal Virgin or Classical goddess

2.)   To witness two lithe, slender young women spank each other

3.)   To be spanked by a large, matronly woman

4.)   To spank a young boy


The most popular brothel was ‘The Flogging Club’ owned by Mrs. James, renowned for its focus on sadomasochism

The most notorious brothel, however, was Mrs. Teresa Berkley’s Portland Place brothel and her inventory gives us a unique insight. Among her facilitates are included:

  • 12 whips of varying firmness/springiness
  • 12 cat-of-nine-tails, 3 studded with needlepoints
  • 12 canes of varying width
  • Several birch rods and holly rods wrapped in nettles
  • Numerous ropes and straps with which the client could bind or be bound

Mrs. Berkley also advertised both her lithe maidens and stout matrons, in accordance with popular tastes.


Further Reading: Eroticised Spanking in 18th century literature

The collected works of the Marquis de Sade, most notably '120 Days of Sodom' (1785), 'The Crimes of Love' (1800), 'Justine' (1791) and 'Eugenie de Franval' (1800). Whilst spanking features briefly across all texts here mentioned, it features most prominently in '120 Days of Sodom' and slightly less in 'Justine' whereas 'The Crimes of Love' and 'Franval' are more heavily focused on sexuality.  

John Cleland's 'Fanny Hill' (1748) briefly references eroticised spanking in which the male partner is the passive recipient at the hands of a female sexual partner, a dynamic which is reversed in Jean Baptiste de Boyer's 'Therese the Philosopher' (1748). The power dynamics of eroticised spanking are also explored in Fougeret de Monbron's 'Margot la Ravaudeuse' (1753) through which the female protagonist, a courtesan, gains influence through her conquests with powerful men; Denis Diderot's 'The Indiscreet Jewels' (1748) however proffers a male protagonist who gains psychological and moral ascendency over multiple women through intimate knowledge of their sexual activity. 











Mercurius Democritus or A Perfect Nocturnal (London, England) July 27th, 1659



Poor Robins Memoirs (London, England), Monday, December 31, 1677. 17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers.



Review of the State of the English Nation (Cumulation) (London, England), Tuesday, August 20, 1706; Issue 100. 17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers.



Publication of His Majesty’s Edict and Severe Censure Against Private Combats and Combatants (London, England), Friday, February 4, 1614. 17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers.



The majority of these primary sources indicate that eighteenth century English society viewed public humiliation and punishment in a very positive light, even prescribing such measures as effective corrective measures.


Perfect Occurrences of Parliament and Chief Collections of Letters (London, England), December 27, 1644 - January 3, 1645. 17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers.



Kingdomes Weekly Intelligencer (London, England), March 11, 1645 - March 18, 1645; Issue 91. 17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers.



These primary sources, however, indicate society’s perception of public sexual conduct and prescribing harsh punishment, yet also implying some tacit acceptance through declining to publicly name and castigate the culprits.



Derek Jarrett, ‘England in the Age of Hogarth’ (Yale University Press: London), 1986.

This was particularly useful for acquiring a general sense of the psychological, and particularly religious, oppression prevalent upon the psyche of eighteenth century society.


Edwin J. Henry, ‘The Kiss of the Whip’ (Walton Press: London), 1961.

This allowed me to gain a fascinating insight into the perception of pain and punishment and included invaluable primary sources, particularly concerning the amalgamation of pain and pleasure in sexuality.


Marilyn Morris, ‘Sex, Money and Personal Character in Eighteenth-century British Politics’, (Yale University Press: London), 2014.

I found less of value in this source, however I was able to gain a greater understanding of eighteenth century England, and particularly the experiences of the economically oppressed.


Bill Burgwinkle and Cary Howie, ‘Sanctity and Pornography in Medieval England’, (Manchester University Press: Manchester), 2010.

Whilst I certainly didn’t expect to find anything specific to eighteenth century society, I included this source in my research to allow me to gain a greater understanding of sexuality and punishment preceding the seventeenth century and thus better understand any developments evident throughout the eighteenth century.


Sarah Toulian, ‘Imagining Sex: Pornography and Bodies in Seventeen-century England’, (Oxford University Press: Oxford), 2007.

As with the above source, this was included in my research to provide greater depth and breadth to my understanding


'Sexuality in Eighteenth-Century Britain' ed. Paul-Gabriel Bouce, (Manchester University Press, Manchester), 1982. 

This allowed me to examine the treatment of sexuality in eighteenth century Britain, but more particularly the growing acceptance of previously prohibited sexual behaviours. Whilst licence was never granted to prostitution, adultery or the practise that would later become known as bondage-domination-sado-masochism there was nevertheless growing acceptance and a reluctance to formally prosecute.


Oscar Sherwin, 'Crime and Punishment in England of the Eighteenth Century' (The American Journal of Economics and Sociology 5.2,) 1946. 

The accounts in this text, and particularly the contemporaneous records of genuine judicial punishments meted out in eighteenth century England, not only provided me with a reasonable understanding of the eighteenth century judicial system but also to glean a greater understanding of the eighteenth century psyche and the thoughts likely to be prevalent.


‘The Covent Garden Journal’ ed. Henry Fielding, (London, England), 1752.

This was a primary source focused largely on events and particularly transgressions in London and thereby gain a greater understanding of contemporary attitudes towards sexuality. I later also found several examples of corporal and judicial punishment referenced throughout this source, something for which the publication seemed to advocate.


‘The Visions of Sir Henry Ryley and Other Entertainments’ patron Mrs. Symson, (London, England), 1710.

This was a source largely focused on eighteenth century feminine values, particularly with regards to sexual morality; the narrative voice of this text was fiercely condemning of public lechery however also acknowledged the permeable boundaries between “respectable” woman and “harlot”.


‘The Tatler’, ed. Richard Steele and Harrison William, (Oxford, England), 1709.

Unlike the above source, these articles were very focused on the distinction between respectable women and “harlots” and how respectable men may distinguish between them.


The Lay Monk, ‘The Lay Monastery’, ed. Richard Blackmore and John Hughes, (London, England), 1713.

This is a collection of didactic essays and frequently touches upon various forms of morality, particularly sexual morality and thus aided me in gaining an understanding of contemporary attitudes.


‘Bell’s Weekly Messenger’, vol 4., (Manchester, England), 1809.

Whilst this source is from the early nineteenth century and is therefore more of an examination of the legacy left by the eighteenth century and may also be indicative of attitudes in the late eighteenth century. This source focuses on punishment and provides a moralising viewpoint on the judicial implementation of punishment,.


John Thomas Hope, ‘The Humorist, being essays upon several subjects’, (London, England), 1720.

The essays throughout this source frequently allude back to punishment and particularly its’ psychological implications. One particularly interesting section comments on the potential of men feeling emasculated in their own homes, the usual area of man’s dominion as a result of punishment either within or outside the home.


‘The York Courant’ (York, England), 1742.

This was a short pamphlet recounting regional events and particularly recent uprising and civil unrest in which several items of local property were destroyed; the pamphlet recounted the judicial punishment of the rebels, including compensation for destroyed property. This therefore allowed me to gain a tangible insight into both the psychology of punishment in eighteenth century society as well as the kind of uprising that became not infrequent.



Image 1: Uniforms and exercise at Pentonville prison

Image 2: Uniforms at Milbank prison

Image 3: Bentham Panopticon 

Image 4: Pentonville prison uniforms, as designed by Jeremy Bentham and intended for the abject of humiliation of the wearer

Image 5: Jeremy Bentham

Image 6: Kitty Fisher

Image 7: The Marquis de Sade

Image 8 and 9: Illustrations from ‘Marquis de Sade’


Images Credit

Images 1,2 and 4: ‘The Criminal Prisons of London and Scenes of London Life’, ed. Henry Mahew and John Binny, (London Publications: London, England) 1862.  

Image 3: 'Bentham Panopticon' from the Atlas Obscura Online, uploaded 17/6/17. 

Image 5: ‘Jeremy Bentham’ by Henry William Pickersgill, 1829, courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery.  

Image 6: ‘Catherine Maria Kitty Fisher’ by Nathaniel Hone, 1765, courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, retrieved 2015.

Image 7: ‘The Marquis de Sade’ artist unknown, 1760, Smithsonian Online.

Image 8 and 9: Illustrations from ‘Marquis de Sade’ from The Works of the Marquis de Sade, from Art.co.uk.


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