Kinky History

Kinky History

By: Esmé Louise James

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A provocative journey through human sexual history, packed with fun factoids and forgotten stories, from the historian and storyteller behind Kinky History, @esme.louisee on TikTok

Contrary to popular belief, our predecessors had all sorts of obscene hobbies long before Christian Grey hit the scene. In this enlightening romp, learn about the first instances of homosexuality on record from the ancient world and the diverse history of nonbinary gender; encounter a thousand years’ worth of hilarious and horrifying contraceptive methods; consider the positive and negative effects of the widespread availability of pornography in the digital age—and how our relationship to it changed during the pandemic; take a sneaky riffle through centuries of bedside drawers; and discover the dirty little secrets of luminaries such as Julius Caesar, James Joyce, Albert Einstein, and Virginia Woolf.
Esmé Louise James also identifies the key tipping points that directly inform current beliefs around sex to place the past in conversation with the present. By educating ourselves about the weird, wonderful, and varied spectrum of human sexuality and experience, we can normalize and destigmatize sex, write people of marginalized sexual identities back into the pages of history, and build toward a more liberated future.

Details & specs

Publisher name:
Penguin Publishing Group

Publication date:


Penguin Random House

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