Review: A Curious History of Sex
January 6, 2021

Even in a weighty book such as Dr. Kate Lister’s A Curious History of Sex, sex and sexuality is a massive topic to cover. However, Lister manages to fit a wealth of history succinctly, cleverly and hilariously into one fantastic and accessible read.

Also known as the curator of Whores of Yore, Dr. Lister covers a multitude of topics within A Curious History of Sex: vocabulary, biology, food, machines, hygiene, reproduction, and money, explaining how the history of sex has intertwined with all of these topics. Although a lot of the research cited comes from western world sources, the author obviously made a great effort to be as inclusive as possible, even with the limitations that available published research allowed.

I especially appreciated the inclusion of sexual innuendo from history sprinkled liberally throughout. Delightful.

It’s also worth noting that a hefty chunk of pre-order income from the book went to Basis Sex Work, a UK support and advocacy group for sex workers.

This chonky book was my constant companion over the holidays this year. Sure, I didn’t get to see my side of the family because of COVID-19 protocols but I did learn that Victorian pornography had a slight obsession with ladies and their sexy, sexy bicycles.


Jillianne Hamilton is a history enthusiast and the author of The Spirited Mrs. Pringle (historical fiction), The Hobby Shop on Barnaby Street (historical romance), and The Lazy Historian’s Guide to the Wives of Henry VIII (non-fiction). Jill launched The Lazy Historian in 2015. She lives in Charlottetown on Canada’s beautiful east coast. Learn more.

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Hi, I'm Jillianne.

I'm a historical fiction writer, a lover of history, and a hoarder of books. I'm the author of The Spirited Mrs. Pringle, The Hobby Shop on Barnaby Street, and The Lazy Historian's Guide to the Wives of Henry VIII.

The Lazy Historian is a history blog featuring stories from the past with sass. With a focus on Western European and women's history, I delve into anything fascinating. Learn more.