chapter  6
23 Pages


Only the nineteenth century has achieved the distinction of being a 'sexual epoch'. The Victorian era has found a central place in popular culture as a period of excessive sexual austerity, repression and prudery. In the pioneering histories of Steven Marcus, Eric Trudgill and Ronald Pearsall, Victorian sexuality was depicted as a period of Puritan moralism, an inevitable reaction against the aristocratic libertinism of the eighteenth century. Queen Victoria's insistence on propriety and respectability seemed, to nineteenth-century moral reformers and twentieth-century historians alike, to define the age that bore her name.