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A Curious History of Sex


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The Sunday Times bestselling exploration of the weird and wonderful things human beings have done in pursuit (and denial) of the mighty orgasm

About the Author

Dr Kate Lister is a university lecturer. She researches the history of sexuality and curates the online research project Whores of Yore. She is also a columnist for iNews and the Wellcome Trust where she writes about the history of sex. Kate won the Sexual Freedom Award for Publicist of the Year in 2017. / @WhoresofYore


  • 'Buckle your trousers, fasten your seatbelts, here comes Kate Lister. Her curious history of sex is a wild ride, made all the more enjoyable by a wonderfully irreverent approach . . . I've never had so much fun learning stuff' The Times
  • 'Had Victoria Wood decided to write a scholarly book about sex, it would be like this. Lister has a saucy wit . . . I laughed out loud.' Daily Mail
  • 'Lister romps her way through masturbation, menstruation and prostitution, the invention of condoms, the use of vibrators to cure hysteria and much more . . . Glorious' Evening Standard
  • 'An anecdote-rich chronicle that uncovers layer on layer of oppression . . . vivid and playful' Guardian
  • 'A riot to read' New Statesman
  • 'Brilliant . . . A must-read' Dan Snow
  • 'An eye opener. Thoughtful but fun, scholarly but spritely . . . and a bit rude!' Sir Tony Robinson
  • 'A generous, thoughtful, uncensored history of sex. From virginity tests to vegetable dildos, onanism to orgasm, menstruation to male sex work, this fascinating book encourages us to take a long hard look at how history has shaped understandings of sex as we know it today, and how sex might best be guided into the future' Annie Sprinkle, pleasure activist and author of The Explorer's Guide to Planet Orgasm
  • 'A wonderfully entertaining read. Worth going along for the ride! Kate Lister's Curious History of Sex is great fun and brilliantly illustrated. Lister wears her learning lightly, and is ready to laugh and occasionally gasp with horror along with her readers at some of the strange facts she unearths. Lister's erudition never distances the reader and her tolerance and understanding means you never feel preached at. A fantastic guide to the strange history of human sexuality in all its forms and also very, very, funny!' Catharine Arnold, author of City of Sin: London and its Vices
  • 'Simply brilliant. Exploding with facts and anecdotes, and always presented with warmth by a historian who clearly loves her subject' Lucy-Anne Holmes, author of Don't Hold My Head Down

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