As an author and avid reader of erotic historical romance, I sometimes see comments like ‘that never would have been said/done’ when it comes to the Regency period (England 1811-1820.) As though nobody cursed or talked dirty. Nobody defied the rules. Nobody indulged in raunchy sex or kink.
Definitely not true!
My Fallen series, about an exclusive London pleasure club where lords and ladies indulge all their wildest sexual desires, is actually a little tame compared to some of the real life clubs that were popular at the time.
So where could you go and get your kink on? Well, each year there was a helpful guidebook printed so those with certain desires knew where to go and what each particular establishment offered.
If you enjoyed flagellation (fun fact: birching was so commonplace, it was known as le vice anglais or ‘the English vice’) there were numerous options, even helpfully located in well-to-do residential areas. Probably most well-known was dominatrix and very successful businesswoman Mrs. Theresa Berkley’s private establishment in Soho Square, London. Here, wealthy men and women could be flogged, birched, whipped and the like. For a substantial fee, she even occasionally allowed herself to be whipped, although she had a staff of women who would step in if more pain was to be inflicted than she enjoyed. Another high-end paid subscription option for all your S&M desires was Miss Fawkland’s Temple of Mysteries in St. James’s Square. There was also a discreet lesbian club in Jermyn Street for women-only whipping, and gay patrons could attend the Mollie’s Club.
Further afield, there was the Beggar’s Benison in Scotland. The Prince Regent was an honorary member of this gentleman’s club dedicated to ‘the convivial celebration of male sexuality.’ They drank (often from phallic-shaped glasses) read aloud from erotic texts, admired ‘posture girls’ (similar to today’s exotic dancers, to be watched but not touched) and enjoyed robust and surprisingly modern-thinking debates on sexual topics like masturbation and female contraception. (Both in favor!)
All of these clubs were of course, in addition to high end brothels patronized by royals, foreign ambassadors, and wealthy aristocrats. Mrs. Catherine Windsor and Mrs. Sarah Dubery both ran popular spots in King’s Place. And if you wanted to read a risqué publication, Bon Ton magazine was the go.
Indeed, like every other era since the dawn of time, our Regency friends indulged in plenty of wickedness!
New Zealander Nicola Davidson always adored words, romance and history, so writing historical romance was a logical career progression…er, eventually. After completing a communications degree and journalism diploma she left to teach English in Taiwan and travel through Asia before returning home to work in television. Jobs in tertiary education, local government communications and print media followed, but the lords and ladies in her head wouldn’t hold their peace a moment longer and so began the years of professional daydreaming. When not chained to a computer writing wickedly sexy, witty and twisty turny stories, Nicola can be found ambling along a beach, cheering on the champion All Blacks rugby team or driving her nearest and dearest batty with her history geekisms, chocolate hoarding and complete lack of domestic skills.