What the Austen? Podcast

Episode 29: The Lost Sex Scenes of Jane Austen with Annie Harrison @AmorousHistories

February 12, 2023 Episode 29
What the Austen? Podcast
Episode 29: The Lost Sex Scenes of Jane Austen with Annie Harrison @AmorousHistories
Show Notes Transcript

Let's talk about sex... 

In this episode I am joined by Annie Harrison from the Amorous Histories Podcast, as we explore the book Pride And Promiscuity: The Lost Sex Scenes of Jane Austen by Arielle Eckstut. 

We chat about Lizzy & Darcy getting it on in the bushes, Henry Tilney’s cupboard full of sex toys and Emma Woodhouse taking some ‘personal time’ before dinner… 

The history of Sex in Regency England is as vast as it is fascinating. If you have ever wanted to learn more about London’s 18th Century Gay clubs,  the surprisingly eco friendly condom (bow included), and whether women were really as oblivious as Daphne Bridgerton - this episode is for you!

Please take my description as pre warning, I can't be held liable if you decide to play this episode in the office, on a school run or without headphones on the train... 😂

Most books/essays mentioned can be found on my Bookshop.org shop, or are otherwise stated below: 
A Dialogue Between A Married Lady and A Maid by Nicolas Chorier
Princess Seraphina: https://lgbthistoryuk.org/wiki/Princess_Seraphina
Anne Lister: https://www.hbo.com/gentleman-jack
The School of Venus: or; The Ladies Delight, Reduced into Rules of Practice by Michel Millot and Locus Elm Press

It’s also LGBTQ+ history month in the UK 🏳️‍🌈 🏳️‍⚧️and so if you are like me and want to learn more about the history of the community I will drop some extra resources below and creators who are worth following.  As Annie states in the episode Queer history has been conveniently swept under the rug, and so if you are a member of the community or trying to be an active ally like myself its good to do your own research.  The more we know, the more we can share and the less it will be hidden away by society.
So to further your Queer history knowledge see creators & resources below:
There is also a book by  Hannah McElhinney coming out in March called 'Rainbow History Class - Your Guide Through Queer and Trans History' which is on my TB list. 


Where can you find Annie?
Annie has an episode on Mollie Houses and an upcoming epsidoe on Princess Seraphina so make sure to check those out!
Instagram @amoroushistories
Apple,  Spotify and all other platforms for Podcasts... 

Support the show

Where can you find your host (Izzy)?
Website: www.whattheausten.com
Podcast Instagram: @whattheausten
Personal Instagram: @izzy_meakin
Youtube: What the Austen? Podcast

Izzy Meakin  00:18

Hi Janeites and welcome to episode 29 of the What the Austen? Podcast. Today we will be talking about the book pride and promiscuity The Lost sex scenes of Jane Austen by Ariel Escott. So this episode, I thought it'd be really fun to look at the book, but also just sex in Regency England in general, because oh my goodness, this is such a fascinating topic. And I'm really excited to get into that today. And I'm joined by the wonderful Annie Harrison from Mrs. History. So welcome, Annie. I am so glad to have you with me today. Thank you for having me. So usually, I asked my guests what got them into Jane Austen originally, but I know you're more familiar with, like the history of the time period as opposed to Austen's work. But do you have any familiarity with Austen's work? Have you seen any of the adaptations before now?


Annie  01:04

You're so I've seen a couple of the adaptations and read Pride and Prejudice, I think when I was doing my undergrad in English literature, as as you sort of have to. And yeah, I really I wasn't I didn't think I'd like it when I picked it up. Because I've seen the Colin Firth adaptation and I'd seen the Keira Knightley one and I was bitten man not really for me not interested knowing just second century to be honest, didn't want anything to do with it, picked it up and started reading it and just found a Mrs. Bennett absolutely hilarious and was sort of, there you go. That's it. I'm happy to read the rest of this.So yeah, I've seen a couple you know, like Emma and all the sort of modern ones. I love it when there are modern twists on classic books. How to remember the name of the one whether it would High School.


Izzy Meakin  01:56

Oh my gosh, you're not clueless. Yes, clueless. Love. It is such a good one.


Izzy Meakin  02:03

It's just so


Annie  02:04

random as well. You're watching it and you sort of just Oh yeah. Cool. And then you Google it or whatever. Or someone tells you Oh, did you know that? That's an adaptation of Jane Austen.


Izzy Meakin  02:16

super sketchy? No. So when I send you these, these clips from this book, it wasn't too much of a


Annie  02:20

shock. No, not not a shock. No, no


Izzy Meakin  02:24

shock in terms of characters. But in terms of content, it is a little bit bizarre.


Annie  02:28

Yeah, it's weird. I saw. I thought when I was reading it, I thought it would get quite raunchy. And I I started reading it on my lunch break at work, and then had to put it away because I thought, oh, no, you can't read this in the office. And then when I came home and sort of finished reading it, I was I slightly disappointed because I thought it was gonna get quite into it. And then all of a sudden, now, you know,


Annie  02:56

Elizabeth and Darcy have put their you know, they've just got done, bashed out and off we go walk in again. And it was like, okay, sort of, I thought there was gonna be slightly more, slightly more scandalous, shall we say? Slightly more sex in a booklet states to be about sexy? Yeah.


Izzy Meakin  03:19

Yeah, I literally thought the same. I thought, My gosh, if you're gonna, you're gonna write the last six scenes of Austen. I figured, you know, you'd go all out. But I agree. I feel like it was kind of more sexual innuendos as opposed to actual sex a lot of the time.


Annie  03:33

Yeah, I wondered whether that was the intention was the intention to almost mimic that, that the sort of virtue, you know, fake virtue, and have the metaphors, obviously, she's really big on metaphors in that book, like pool cues and different words other than just saying penis, or vagina or breasts or lips? And I'm thinking, Is she trying to sort of convey that that sensibility of the 18th century? Or is she you know, taking the mick is a satire is she going? I'm gonna see what ridiculous object I can imply as a penis and see how much I can get away with because it's that weird, sort of in between of in is absolutely hysterical. Or is it really bad? I can't quite figure out.


Izzy Meakin  04:31

It is like such a weird book in that sense. I couldn't quite place the characters as themselves. And I didn't know whether that's because they were doing stuff that they don't actually do in the novel. And it was kind of like surprising. Or I was like, I just didn't think I didn't know there were certain things that I was like, Oh, I kind of feel like this. In my mind, their sex life would have been different because of x, y and Zed if that makes sense.


Annie  04:55

Yeah, yeah. You read them innocent In the I guess, the ones that you're supposed to read innocently and Elizabeth Bennet is supposed to be a sort of innocent character. So maybe it would be different if we were reading Wickham, and he is very much not an innocent character. He is that rake. So would we expect to see him in a sec scene as opposed to someone else? Yeah, that's


Izzy Meakin  05:23

actually such a great point John Mullen wrote, one of the chapters in his book is all about kind of sex, or lack of sex in Austen. But mostly, the sex that we kind of know about as a reader in Austen is isn't explicit, but it's kind of like like you said, the Wickham and Lydia situation. It's the Isabella and Frederick situation, or Willoughby sleeping with Eliza like pre the start of the novel, we just find out about that later. And he had a really great quote, and Austen's novel as an 18th century novels from which he learns premarital sex happens because a young woman gets into the hands of a rakish man, not because two people simply cannot resist each other. And so that's pretty exactly what you're saying is the sex that they talk about is kind of like this scandalous sex that secretive and it's kind of behind the scenes, it's hidden away. Whereas this book tries to bring it like slap bang in the middle of a novel. I think the Elizabeth Darcy one is particularly hilarious because the scene that it falls into is when the garden is and Elizabeth have been shown around the grounds of Pemberley by Darcy. And it's like Mr. And Mrs. Gardner off like admiring the cows. And then Darcy and Lizzy start like getting on behind a tree somewhere.


Annie  06:39

Yeah, I was really rooting for them, as well, when they were saying, Oh, she's just checking there a while off chatting to a cow. And she sort of just like, tackle them on the grass down by this train, I think right? Okay, come on, Lizzie, you know, get your fill. And then it's, it's just quite disappointing. And you be wonder, Is that on purpose? Because she trying to make it awkward issue trying to make people who love Jane Austen's writings and love those characters feel awkward by inserting this what is arguably an unnecessary scene, but to some people? Because do we need to imagine this exercise? Or do we need to read their sex lives? Can we just infer it through the text that we do read? And some people do argue that obviously, Jane did write the sort of metaphors in you just have to know how to read it and where to look to see that sort of the sexual undertones over text.


Izzy Meakin  07:46

That's so so true. And I think awkward is such a great way to describe this book because it was it didn't points feel unnecessary. I know a lot of listeners may not have read this book. So I have pulled a couple of quotes from this Elizabeth Darcy scene in particular. And it says so you'll get good, you'll get a good feel of what me and only you're talking about here. It says Elizabeth took advantage of their weakened state and pulled Mr. Darcy down to the ground. A quick glance over her shoulder confirm that the gardener's were deep in conversation with a cow at least a mile off. I hope the weather has not been too wet for you while at Rosings. Miss Darcy, the warm breath of Elizabeth's words was felt upon his lips. No, I am rather partial to all things wet Miss Bennet. It makes going inside all the more pleasant. So it's basically like 99% sexual innuendos and 1% Nothing really.


Annie  08:35

Yeah, that was the bit that got me that that line about, you know, he's fond of the wet and going inside. And I just thought it's something almost, it's comedy, isn't it? But it's so dirty, just the way that in the context that we're reading it just it made me think of Harris's list of Covent Garden ladies and some of the ways in which that those women are described and their bodies are described in the sector having is described in these really sort of abstract ways that has nothing to do with your actual body or to do with sex is just really random. Like let's let's talk about the weather but make it sexual.


Izzy Meakin  09:21

And you just don't have anything less sexy than the weather. Yeah, exactly.


Annie  09:24

And in that in that passage is is the point they're talking about things that are supposed to not be sexy whilst having sex and it's just a bit that how would How did you even had to the characters even managed to have sex because I would have been laughing


Izzy Meakin  09:42

literally and also can you imagine would like Mr. Mrs. Gardiner elite, they said like a mile off, but I mean, that is so risky, but it is it was such a weird add on scene, which I just thought was a little bit strange. But it did bring up the questions for me of you know what actually He was, you know, sex life like for unmarried women, if they had one at all, if genteel society, and just in general, just sex and Regency England, and this took me down a fascinating rabbit hole. So I thought it'd be really good to talk about. Bridgette and itself kind of open this up. And a lot of people have been googling it since this point, because bridges and tries obviously explores the fact that well, definitely for examples in genteel society, and she is pretty oblivious to anything to do with sex prior to her marriage. But yeah, people like Simon or Anthony, they're very much how active sex lives prior to being married. And I think this is a big difference between what men experienced and what women experience, specifically if this kind of like middle class ground. But also, it's interesting to talk about the kind of the elite society and then poor society as well. So yeah, I'm just interested in your thoughts. And in general, we'll get into more detail. But in like, General, sex in Regency England,


Annie  11:00

I think people have the tendency to expect them not not to have been set like sex to be something that was just between men and women who were married for children. And that's obviously completely not true. Sex, if you can think of it, they were doing it. To be honest, that idea of innocence and virtue that we sort of push on people of the past, they were having all kinds of sex everywhere for fun, as well as for children.


Izzy Meakin  11:35

No, I think I kind of get where you're coming from, because it's kind of like a weird thing between it being secretive and being absolutely in your face everywhere all the time. There was like the elite society of literally boasting about how many people were having sex with, even when they are married. And you have poor people literally having sex to survive, because like prostitution was rife. And then you have like this middle ground Cuba, where you have the women clearly just the like genteel women on married, don't really know, anything that's going on, they're kind of sheltered, but the men very much do, and they're, you know, going out. And like I said, prostitution was rife. So they're sleeping with people, and they can see what's going on as well, like the Kings having affairs, the Queen's having affair, as it's just, you know, it was just the what was happening,


Annie  12:20

I think that's a really good way of looking at it, as well as splitting it between the upper classes who are having sex, for pleasure, and the lower classes who are having sex to survive, and the intermingling of it both because that, you know, you've got your people, your lords and your your members of parliament, going down to Covent Garden to find the cheapest prostitute available, because that's what their thing is. And then you've got these sort of lowly born prostitutes in making their way up through society, through different levels of sex work, until they are the king's mistress. And it completely blurs the lines in between the classes. And as well, between genders, men were expected to go and sow their wild oats, as it were, it was expected of a young man, especially a young man in the upper classes, to go and have some fun, and then come and settle down, find himself a nice wife get married, but she can do the same. Heaven forbid, she should do that, because that's not the done thing. I mean, up until they're sort of 18th century broadly, women were seen as sort of kind of lusty, and they're the ones causing trouble. They're the ones who want sex. And then it sort of flips on its head to the men being able to go out and sleep with whoever they want. And women should be protected, they should be innocent, they should know about these things. And if they do know about these things, that makes them less of a woman. And that makes them less valuable, because they are dirtied almost.


Izzy Meakin  14:07

Oh my gosh. And what's really interesting is for men, but like even once they're married, as well as men can still have mistresses it was really, really common for people to have mistresses and bring them into even living in the same homes as them. But for women, so say like the Elizabeth at the time, women who were like genteel society, so that would include people like Elizabeth Bennett. And I mean, Emma Woodhouse is, is in general, slightly a little bit higher than Elizabeth because obviously, she's richer and everything but once that kind of seen as the person that's going to provide the air, so even in their marriages, they're not even expected to have. It's not sex for pleasure, in a sense, it's sex for we need to have an affair. So that's what your job is, and I'll have my mistress for my fun sex. Yeah, exactly.


Annie  14:51

And that, especially in Ethiopia classes, you see the Minaj that was appearing, you know, Georgia. You know, the Duchess of Devon and her husband, you know, her husband bought his mistress in to live in their house. And luckily Georgianna Elizabeth were were good friends, or maybe more. But they just lived happily, we know supposedly happily together. And the same you see the same with Mr. Hamlin, Emma Hamilton, and Nelson. Tino just been Emma just being moved from man to man, and being moved into the house of whoever she's sleeping with at the time. And the wife just sort of has to grin and bear it. It's almost as if sex isn't for women, that sounds like a bold statement, because there are women out there who weren't owning it and enjoying it. But it's almost we're sort of led to believe that the ones that who were owning it and enjoying it weren't supposed to be that that's deviant, you shouldn't, you shouldn't be doing that you should just be there for your husband.


Izzy Meakin  16:01

So true. It's so kind of mad to think about in that kind of brings me on to the one of the other last sex scenes of this book. And there's a scene where it's basically Emma Emma Woodhouse, and she's just masturbating in her room. And it's, I didn't quite like the way they put a bit she showcases Emma in this because she makes that like Emma's kind of self indulgent and self deluded in a sense, because she's masturbating over the fact that she's really good at running the household and that she's this prominent person in society. And that gets her off the scene it goes as such, this isn't the whole scene, but parts of it, Emma dipped back into her dress with her activity resumed with some frivolous, she thought momentarily of her needing to get everything in order for dinner, but did not allow this thought to interrupt her activities. Rather, it heightened her excitement as it reminded her, not that she had ever truly forgotten how truly essential she was to the flawless running of the household. So it was just that like getting off in a bedroom on her own. Just thinking about how wonderful she is looking after the house and society in general. But when I actually looked into this, because I was like I wouldn't, because I knew there's a whole scene in Bridgeton about this about like, female pleasure and your masturbation for women and all this kind of thing. But I was like, was that actually something that genteel women would have even known about? What have you even done back then? So I started researching and I was like, it was sparse to find anything about this whatsoever. Basically, it said that even doing that alone could jeopardise your possibility of getting a husband because it was seen as you were kind of it almost as bad as if you'd slept with someone before you got married.


Annie  17:46

Yeah, if you think about it in, in this in the sense that if sex is for procreation, that idea of masturbating, you're wasting, you're wasting precious resource if you're well, especially for men, it was you know, seen as, as sinful, and you know, you should save your semen for your wife. So have your babies, I think it probably must have been different for women, because it figured out by that time that women didn't need to orgasm to have children. So would have been seen as once again, it's like another deviant act, isn't it? But interestingly, if you read Fanny hill, there seems in there about masturbation, women masturbating. And it's, it's more explicit than then this book. There's nothing wrong with it, if that makes sense. Even though she's already in, in a brothel in Fanny Hill. She's in a brothel, she's sometimes she's already sleeping with men, sometimes it's before she sleeps with men, but it's part of her debauchery. So it's almost like that dirtiness, like, you never really told about it, you have to discover it. So I, there's loads of different conduct manuals from the 18th century, that where there's people having a conversation, and there's a sort of an enlightened person who knows about sex, who's had sex, and they're talking to an innocent person who hasn't had sex. And they're teaching them about their body through masturbation or mutual masturbation, and telling them stories and stuff like that. So it was out there for you to discover. And obviously, just, I guess, there must be natural just you naturally think to do it. I suppose.


Izzy Meakin  19:38

That's actually such a good point, you know, because I, I did think like, obviously, if the information is not there, I mean, like you said, it's kind of like a knack. Maybe a natural instinct, in a sense, but I was thinking you if there wasn't any information out there, would you even fully comprehend what it was you doing or even know to do it in the first place, but it's interesting that you said that they're kind of was I don't was a pump fluids, but there was information on how to


Annie  20:03

get they were like pamphlets like the school of school Venus, the School of women, that sort of thing. There was one, I was called, like a conversation between a maid and a lady. I'm really bad at remembering the name of these things. And it's an older woman in her sort of 40s that say, talking to a younger, a younger woman who's about to get married, about sex, men, childbirth, pleasure, and all of that sort of stuff. And it is written to be erotica are supposed to be titillating. But if you've just stumbled upon it, and you're a young lady who doesn't know about any of these things, that it is going to be educational as well, you're going to find out how things work. So it works. Yes, it works in both ways. You never obviously didn't have sex ed, and we didn't necessarily have sex ed, either. Depending on how old you are, what school you went to, you did have to just sort of find things out for yourself or stumble upon it.


Izzy Meakin  21:05

Yeah, that's absolutely true. And I think I read somewhere that it wasn't really until like the 19th century that people started to think it was important for women's have actual education on set is


Annie  21:15

not that big, like you said, the there's not much to be said on it, because so little is recorded about it, especially from a female point of view. Because why why would you record that? It's, it's not something you probably going to write in a diary. And if he did, it would be gold mine, you know, being an analyst, his diaries, decoding those to find out what she got up to. So the, the understanding of it we have is probably from a male point of view about women, or about men. So it's like, it's not that reliable. Yeah. And


Izzy Meakin  21:52

I mean, we're seeing this like, this is kind of aliens, who is but you know, female pleasure in writing about, like women masturbating, that kind of thing is still not that common. Like, this isn't just like of Regency era. This is a, you know, an ongoing thing. I think, Bridget, and did a good job of kind of showcasing female pleasure, especially in season two, I'd say. But obviously, it's not something that was that. It wasn't even on the mindset of a lot of genteel women back in the day, like I said, because they literally thought of it as need to get a child. That's, that's what this is about. And my husband goes off, and he has fun with other women, you know, women who know about this stuff. That's not me. And I just think it's, it's fascinating, I think the lack of information on it really showcases that that was the case,


Annie  22:42

especially if you're going to write about it. From your own point of view, do you really want people knowing that nowadays, it's sort of a bit more accepted, there's a lot out there on the internet, especially about empowerment, and being empowered in your self in in, in your sexual identity, and how you have sex, whether that's with a partner or with multiple partners, or just with yourself. And that sort of is coming to the forefront now. Learning to take time for yourself and to pleasure yourself. And it still is going to get the backs up of so many people so many people are still going to be I don't hear about that. Oh, no, it's disgusting. And don't tell me about that. So and that's to weigh 200 years on for from Austen.


Izzy Meakin  23:35

No, no, I totally get that. So that was the MSE and sticking with the same novel, but I wanted to pull a different scene out because I thought was really interesting. There was a scene between Mr. Knightley and Frank Churchill, and it's kind of you know, Frank Churchill's kind of pursuing Mr. Knightley one evening when he rocks up at his house. So I'll read a bit from one of these scenes because I thought genuinely out of all the scenes I thought this one was like, the most interesting but I was just so disappointed that Mr. Knightley was so you just gotta shoot it down. He's just like, Please leave my house. Which is just Yeah, it was a little bit disappointed. I was like, it was just gonna go okay, so so this is Frank Churchill to Mr. Knightley. You cannot hide your pleasure for me DESA I feel your temperature rising already and I have not even laid a finger on you with this Frank Churchill slit his finger up Mr. Knightley his torso. It's hard to imagine how I long for you. Would you like to know the exact dimensions of my longing, you know, or wild innuendos? But I think this whole idea the idea of Frank Churchill being bisexual really makes a lot of sense to me and I can totally see arguments and ways to pull from the text that that's absolutely the case. The fact that he chooses Mr. Knightley makes less sense to me because you Just tell Mr. Knight there's gonna be like, No thank you. I'm you know, I'm, I'm good. I've got a crush on Emma, you know, I thought you had a crush on me as well. Clearly Frank Churchill's got a crush on everybody from this stunts. So, yeah, so this is really good. And there's a couple of scenes where Frank Churchill is just admiring missing athletes breaches, and notes them for their snugness which is brilliant.


Annie  25:25

Yeah, I thought that was that was good. Although I sort of expected like you say, expect it to go somewhere. I thought I thought that Mr. Knightley, maybe would relent and they would end up doing something, any type something. Exactly. It was just implied just sort of don't it's about holding billiard cues and how, you know, how long is this and all of that sort of thing. And then it ends up sort of know, give me the game place. The game really, I


Izzy Meakin  25:59

was kind of like, I feel like the bugs should have been called like the last innuendos of Jane Austen's works, as opposed to the last sex scenes because I was scared to find sex, like actual sex.


Annie  26:09

Yeah, I wonder whether that was the point. I'm sort of thinking. Did you? Did you mean to make it sound like there was going to be sex and they're not put the sex in there as some kind of comment on Jane Austen or other sort of 18th century romantic works? Or did you just actually not want to write the sex, but the publisher was like, we're gonna put sex on the cover. So it sells.


Izzy Meakin  26:31

But what's so weird is I've never never seen this book before. And I found it in like a little antique bookshop and eaten. Just one day it was like wandering. I'm like, looking at the bookshelves. And I'm like, what, what is this? Like, what? I'm like, looking for some of the pages and I'm like, I need to buy this. This seems very interesting. What was a bit cringy as the guy who was working there was like, oh, yeah, that's a great read. Really fun. I'm just like, Thank you. I'll just take my my last six scenes of Austen, home with me. Thanks. Honestly, this is like my first encounter. Never seen it on Bookstagram never seen anybody talking about it's almost like, the book itself is lost. The last six scenes are lost.


Annie  27:12

Yeah, I think it might be, I think good reason for


Izzy Meakin  27:17

doing so. Well. So yeah, this was a really interesting one. And I think it brings up a really good talk. I mean, I personally hadn't read much into, you know, what it was like, back in Regency England for people part of the LGBTQ plus community. Whether there even was a community back then obviously, there were there was people who were who were gay, and you know, trying to live their life, people who were transgender trying to live their lives struggling probably because of, you know, mass discrimination and prosecution at the time. But it was so fascinating to learn more about what it was like at the time, and I kind of got onto the trail of Molly houses. And obviously, I'm using the term Molly based on the term that they used. Not that that's a term we use now. And for kind of these houses where men could go and have sex and have relations or just friendships with other men, and also meet male prostitutes there as well. Yeah, so Molly


Annie  28:10

has his property. One of my favourite things about the 18th century, they were private clubs, shall we say, where men who were interested in having sex with men would gather and drink, whether that's, you know, alcohol, coffee, they would get together and have a bit of a party. And they were underground because they had to be because you could be tried, you could be prosecuted, you could be executed for sodomy. So they were really important in my opinion for that community because it gave them a freedom like a bit of freedom, just a taste of freedom, to really be who they were. They you kind of sometimes they get misunderstood because they had little rituals of dressing as women sometimes not everyone would have done it. But we saw this if anybody watched the BBC taboo they had Molly houses and and a Molly who went and dressed as a woman at the club. So that was an important important part of it as well as sort of taking on what were called maiden names. So they would take women's names, but they were also a joke. So there would be names like dip candle Mary, and names that were reminiscent of their profession or where they lived or what they look like so there was ones that were just really tame like Miss Kitty, or there was like black corpse mole and stuff like that. Or one of them was orange Debbie it because they sold oranges and that sort of thing. So that that was there quite fun. I like those. There's a lot of layers to money, houses and the rich Truls have sort of the main names, their marriage was called marriages, which was not actually a marriage, it was going to what they called the marriage bed to have sex. So it was just going to have sex really. And then sort of fake birthing rituals where there there would be a Molly who birthed wooden, baby or roll of cheese or whatnot. And they will pretend that it was a baby. And I that really interests me, because they're mimicking heterosexual rituals of marriage, birth, and then like getting together, they would have like a little party to discuss the baby, or what, you know that that's fascinating to me, because they're trying, it's like they're trying to live, what would have been seen as the normal life within their own community, there will always be those spaces, whether they're secret or not, in which you can get together. And Molly houses are an excellent example of that. And it wasn't just queer people in those spaces. Like, for example, Mother claps Molly house, Mother clap, Margaret clap. As far as we know, she was a straight woman with a husband that she facilitated that Molly house, whether it was for financial gain, or because, you know, she, she felt like she wanted to provide a space to the men, we don't really know, because not much is known about her. But it's one of those histories that sort of, you don't get taught in school, it kind of conveniently gets swept under the carpet. And you have to go looking for it. It's not always presented to you and then say, in the same way that Windows will history is for example. So it was, yes, good. I love I always have a shout about Molly houses. Yeah, absolutely.


Izzy Meakin  31:47

Yeah. And off the back of this, I started to look at like what it was like for other people in the community. So whether or not you're a queer woman, or if you were trans, for example, it was really interesting to find out that the word lesbian was the only word out of the acronym that was used back in the 18th century. Yeah, so


Annie  32:05

you wouldn't have been gay, you wouldn't have been trans you wouldn't have been by, you wouldn't have been queer, but you would, you could have been a lesbian. I think that's more towards the end of the 18th century. So if you were a homosexual man who's already got sodomite, you've got loads of slurs, you've got Molly. And the same for lesbian. There are loads of different ways of saying lesbian. So that's quite it's quite an interesting point. And on the on the trans issue as well, that, obviously people who were trans or non binary existed. And in some cases, they existed absolutely fine. Like Princess Serafina is quite a famous case. Princess Serafina, was born a man, sometimes they presented as a man. And sometimes they presented as a woman wearing dresses, wearing wigs wearing makeup walking around, and they were referred to as Princess Serafina. And we know this from the court cases in which they they were robbed by a man who said, you know, there, there was probably something about to happen, and then he robbed them and took him to court for it to get her stuff back. And the sort of the guy who robbed it was like, oh, no, God look gay man. You know, Molly, he got he can't blame me for robbing this person. Everyone. Hold up, Princess Serafina. Really cool. I don't know why you robbed her, give her stuff back. And let's all just move on with our lives because we don't give a crap that she walks around in dresses one day, and no trousers. The next has got nothing to do with us. We don't care. So I think like these people need to be elevated and we need to know more about them.


Izzy Meakin  33:47

Oh my gosh, I'm totally going to research Princess Serafina. Now. Oh, my gosh, that was such a cool. I never heard about that before.


Annie  33:55

Also, I think I'm trying to remember the transcripts, the court transcripts. I feel as though she was quite catty. Like you are, you know, like a mod that you know, like drag queens today sometimes can be quite catty. And you're just like, oh, okay, like original drag queen here.


Izzy Meakin  34:12

Oh my gosh, dang, that's amazing. I love that she took him to court. Good honour. Like yeah, he's a princess Serafina energy. I love it. And obviously, that's a situation where it's a little bit more open as opposed to like with the the Molly houses we're talking about. I think what's also interesting as well is particularly for queer women, it was really easy for them to kind of go under the radar. It was so normal for women to be in the same bedrooms together for being alone together. Because that was so accepted. It was so much easier and I think I read an article where someone was saying the only reasonably probably don't have more information, but it was so easy for them to do it and just not not like anybody to know what was going on. And then I found a really interesting story. I think you did an episode on this as well. Um, I'm trying to think what their names was lady.


Annie  35:02

Oh, the ladies of Llangollen.


Izzy Meakin  35:04

Yes. Oh my goodness, and that they ran away from their families and islands who they could buy this Gothic mansion together in, in Wales. I was like, Oh my goodness. What a love story.


Annie  35:15

I know. It's the absolute, it's like peak lesbian. And it's beautiful, because at no point in their lives, did they ever sort of say, Yes, we're a couple, but they were a couple. And they ran away from their respective families in Ireland. They were both sort of supposed to be getting married to men, and didn't want to they had a very close friendship. They eloped were sort of a Lopes together, failed, had to come home. And then they were both locked away from each other for I think it was about a month before their parents relented and like fine, like, go to Wales do whatever it is you want to do. Fine. So they, they went off to Wales. We travelled around England in the UK for a little bit and then settled in nine Gauquelin and bought a little cottage. And yeah, just spent the rest of their lives together in this cottage renovating it. You know, they buy land as it came up. They had a dog called Sappho, which I think really should have been like a massive giveaway. And they, they were sort of seen as like a wonder if people would come and visit them. And you've been Oh, yeah, I've seen the ladies of Llangollen, and sort of see how they live. You know, when I think it was Eleanor, she had this really amazing library, and all their initials were embossed on the books, so you'd have both their initials embossed on the books, which obviously, you know, just friends.


Izzy Meakin  36:50

I love it. Like I said, nothing's more romantic than having both your initials on your books in your, in your library.


Annie  36:58

It's a it's a dream is that I think I feel like probably most people would be happy if they could have a beautiful gothic cottage. I think it's like five acres of land. A library, obviously most important. And Angie dogs, and you never have to go anywhere because they didn't like they didn't like going anywhere. They were like No, I don't want to have to actually leave where I live.


Izzy Meakin  37:21

I love it. I can totally relate to that honestly. And they lead to like using lace people visit them. They were friends with Mary Shelley Byron, he will come I think all these people were like poems about them and all Yeah, I think I think I think like you said that there was a woman who came to stay with them because she wanted to marry this woman that she was in love with. And she didn't know how they could make it work. And she went and stayed with them to see how they they will live in and how they'd done it.


Annie  37:49

Yeah, I think it um, Mr. visited in, I want to say the 18 birdies, but I could be completely wrong there. And sort of saw that you could be in a same sex relationship as as women and be happy and be left alone and not be sort of bullied, or if they weren't breaking the law. They did nothing illegal, though, was it it was completely legal for women to have sex. That's absolutely fine. It's never been illegal for women to have sex in the UK. It was just that it was different. That was the only thing about that. And yeah, and Lister went, went and stayed with them for a couple of nights. And she wrote in diary, you know, it's clear that they're not just friends even though they they sort of say that they are. And you know, I'm gonna go back to Yorkshire and you know, this has given me sort of fresh hope, as it were, that I could be with a woman for life. If you've watched if anybody's watched the BBC jar about Anne Lister. They do sort of get married in their own little way they take the sacrament together in York. Her and and Walker. for them. That was enough, completely two different sides of a coin when it comes to being a queer woman or a queer man in in 18th century Britain.



Yeah, absolutely. Well, it's


Izzy Meakin  39:12

there's one more scene from the last sex scenes that I want to talk about. And that was the one between Henry and Catherine. So we're referring to Northanger Abbey, and this happens. My listeners will know there's like a really weird scene where Henry stumbles like a punk Catherine and she's just like snooping around the house and try to find out like clues whether or not Henry's father killed his mother. And his she's just sneaking around the house and he stood like turns up like allergies like but like they're very shocked to see each other just walking around the castle in the middle of the Abbey in the middle of the night. So, basically, this is just after that happens. Henry follows her back to her room, I believe. And one of the line states basically Catherine goes into this wardrobe and she found find all sorts of nice, like she finds like a riding crop and a cool set and all kinds of interesting stuff in the wardrobe. So she says, Katherine was a country girl. And like many very fond of riding, she had grown up with horses. And so she had seen many similar items, but not quite like the ones that she saw before her. So basically, Henry has this like box of sex toys in the wardrobe, and Catherine stumbles upon it. And, yeah, I just thought this was fascinating, because I was like, I wonder if this is even a thing back then. So we kind of got into this, like deep dive on Google. And found all about, like department stores at the time that was selling condoms made of dried sheep gut, and dildos made out of all sorts, you got one may not leather ones made out of ivory and wood, you know, these were things that were like available in shops, and I was so surprised. I honestly couldn't believe it.


Annie  40:58

Yeah, I mean, again, sex toys are probably as old as sexes, you're gonna have had those things since the dawn of time, because it's not that natural. You think it must be that it must be innate along with masturbation, to seek out that pleasure. So yeah, they would have had dildos made from word made from leather made from ivory, you even would have had dildos made from like, really highly polished stone. Like God. Yeah. And the condoms would have been sort of internet animal on test and that you would have, you know, had to be gone through quite a rigorous sort of recipe to get to be in a wearable sort of piece of material. And my favourite bit about 18th century condoms is that they had ribbons around them to tie them on. So you'd have the you know, your spoke stand at the end of the condom to catch the theme and and all of that, and then they would have to tie a tie on quick is it wasn't like thou condoms, you just roll them on. And they stay in place. Hopefully. Yeah, so they'd have little ribbon to tie on or the I just love that. That makes me so



pregnant. Yeah.


Izzy Meakin  42:22

That's actually hilarious. I also saw as well this department store that you could either buy them new, or they did like they washed them, like if you took them back and then somebody else could buy the washed one. So it's like slightly cheaper to buy a wash cotton. But we're not. We're not doing everything up you feel in that myself. But actually, that's actually fascinating that people would take them back to be washed like a dry cleaners, but the condoms.


Annie  42:48

That's That's an awful thought, isn't it? For you would you would buy sort of like your pack of condoms. And then after you've used it, wash it, dry it. You're good to go again. That was very eco friendly and


Izzy Meakin  43:02

eco friendly. Yes. It sounds definitely sounds more eco friendly. I don't know quite been taking it back to the shop for someone else to buy the moment. But what was something that kind of got me thinking as well as obviously this was the scene between Henry and Catherine, but I thought it'd be more likely because Katherine's whole deal is she's like obsessed with the supernatural and gothic and things and she sees it where it's not. But I thought absolutely more likely that she had sex with a ghost. And it made me think about episode.


Annie  43:37

That that's an opportunity missed. Yeah,


Izzy Meakin  43:40

literally, literally. So we're gonna make this opportunity. So I've been like, super fascinated to talk about this. So am I very insane. It's called spectra. Philia.


Annie  43:48

Yeah, yeah. So I suspect your failure to definitions one of it would actually relate to Emma I guess in in her scene where she's looking at herself. One of it is sort of like being sexually aroused by mirrors, or reflections. But the one that I've sort of spoken about in the past is the sexual attraction to ghosts or operations and or having sex with ghosts as some people have stories of the the sex with with ghosts things would have been such a good opportunity for that because she's so into horror. And an Austen is really sort of taken taking the Mickey there with the with the gothic novels of the time.


Izzy Meakin  44:37

Like I feel like Ariel's totally missed out there like that definitely could have been an added Lexie in that it was Catherine and a ghost. I can definitely


Annie  44:44

put would it be a ghost of who that would be? No,


Izzy Meakin  44:48

no and relative. Henry I don't even like to think of it. Maybe it isn't. Oh my god that'd be a bit dark considering then went on to marry Henry but doesn't know it. ancestor unknown ancestor of Henry, then you have, obviously a full episode on that. And also, like I was saying about the Mali houses, which I really recommend listening to you because it was really interesting as well. And obviously, these are all just our thoughts, guys. So you know, if you want to try your own hand, the book, which is pride and promiscuity, the last sex scenes of Jane Austen, by aerial skirts, your head, you know, I'll link everything in my bio. So obviously, you can have a look in the book does have a lot more scenes in the we've discussed today. You know, there's ones between Mr. Collins and Charlotte, which is interesting. And you know, Anna Wentworth, you know, there's so many others. So yeah, that's definitely maybe it's worth checking out, you know, but thank you so much. This has been such a great episode, and I really appreciate you coming on.


Annie  45:46

Thank you for having me. Thank you for asking me. I hope I made sense in my jabbering.



No, absolutely. 100% I


Izzy Meakin  45:54

really enjoyed it. So that's everything from us and I will see you in the next episode.