Victorians: Did They Have Sex

Victorian women

Victorian women

When I began to write the series, The Victorians, for The Wild Rose Press, I had to wonder how to handle the sexual encounters normally found in romances. Here I was dealing with emigrants from England who had chosen to settle in Kansas, but opted to bring their Victorian ways with them. Could I write a sensual love scene? My western historical romances usually have several sensual but not erotic love scenes. I had already been criticized in a review of an earlier book that the scenes seemed to have been included to satisfy a modern appetite.

Okay, so I might have to plead guilty to that. After all I’m writing for modern readers, not Victorian readers, so I do have to satisfy them. When my readers pick up a romance, what do they expect to find? Well Western stuff, of course, but also romance and sex and love scenes.

So I decided to consult some experts on the Victorian Sensual mores of the 1870s. The Victorian Web site is filled with information about the era and the female sexual practices of that era. However, what I found on another site was interesting, though dare I take it for gospel because it would make my writing of this series so easy. With this to back me up, I could include some hot and saucy scenes between my as yet unmarried hero and heroine. “Certainly, the 1860s were briefly as ‘permissive’ as the same decade in the 20th century, while the 1890s saw an explosion of differing and conflicting positions.”  From 

I recall something a character said in Joyland, a recent book by one of my favorite authors, Stephen King, “The writer who writes history writes fiction.”  After writing historical fiction and nonfiction for so many years, I know how true this statement really is. Could I truly prove that the 1860s and 1870s were much like our 1960s and 1970s in the freedom offered to young people when it came to sex and behavior? Just because I read it in a publication online?

On the other hand, do I have to prove it? Is it my duty to prove that everything I write in fiction could be true? I hardly think so. Like my grandson is fond of saying, “It’s fiction, dummy.” Look what Dan Brown did with the Da Vinci Code, and he had more than half his readers believing the parts he made up were as true as those he took from history. Another interesting item I ran across researching Victorian sexuality is this: Queen Victoria showed pornographic photos to her husband to urge him into performing more satisfactorily in bed. Can’t prove this either. It’s probably fiction since it’s history, but looking at photos of that particularly unattractive woman, she had to do something, I’m sure.

The Victorian era was named for the popular Queen Victoria who reigned for 64 years.

The Victorian era was named for the popular Queen Victoria who reigned for 64 years.

When you read WILDA’S OUTLAW, and the second of the series not yet published, ROWENA’S CAPTAIN or (HELLION)—I haven’t quite settled on the title as yet—let it be known that this book is fiction. Enjoy the oh so sensual scenes between Rowena and Blair behind the bedroom doors, and don’t bother to wonder if these two Victorians would have taken part in some of those sexy acts. The bath she gives him is one example true romance readers will certainly enjoy. Take my word for it, Blair and Rowena are the flower children of the 19th century, enjoying the freedom to have a good time and damn the consequences.

So, when and if you write a review of this book, keep that little factoid in mind, won’t you? Check out this Pinterest site for some delightful Victorian photographs.

 

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About veldabrotherton

I'm primarily a writer, but I also speak and teach workshops and co-chair a large critique group. My brand is SexyDarkGritty and that applies to my western historical romances, mysteries, women's fiction and horror novels. After almost 30 years in this business, I still have something to learn and attend conferences to network with other writers, publishers, editors and agents.
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3 Responses to Victorians: Did They Have Sex

  1. You’ve definitely piqued my interest, Velda 😉

  2. Eunice Boeve says:

    They had babies, didn’t they? 🙂 Love the old Victorian photos. I’m sending your website address to my daughters so they can enjoy those photos too. Also wanted the Hays daughter to see your post on the church at Victoria.

    • Yep, they did, but when they had the ones they wanted, many times they stopped having sex because they didn’t have any idea how to prevent pregnancy. Well, there were a few plants said to cause an early abortion, but they were usually dangerous. My real problem with writing the romance was how many women would have a sexual relationship with the man they loved but hadn’t married yet?

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