Carnal lectures of the sins of the flesh

While updating the events diary, came across this rather interesting series of spring time lectures from the The Royal College of Surgeons of England – which need pre-booking in advance, so worth highlighting on the blog.

The evening lectures brings four authors whose recently-published books explore the sordid secrets of Georgian London and reveal some of its larger-than-life characters.

A stern warning on their website says that children are neither to be seen or heard at these lectures, which only makes me keener to attend (I’m easily pleased!).

The Lectures – all need pre-booking on 020 7869 6560 – start at 7pm, but the wonderful Hunterian Museum is open to ticket holders from 6pm. If you haven’t been to the museum before, it is one of those places that I highly recommend looking around.

The surgeon, the countess, her husband and his lover

Thursday 19 March, Wendy Moore

John Hunter, the pioneering surgeon, and Mary Eleanor Bowes, the eccentric Countess of Strathmore, were fellow science enthusiasts and friends in the electrifying atmosphere of Enlightenment London. But when the countess was tricked into marrying a wily Irish fortune-seeker, Hunter was drawn into a murky world of clandestine births, illegitimate babies and abortions. Discussing her new book, Wedlock: How Georgian Britain’s Worst Husband Met His Match, Wendy Moore reveals the seamier side of 18th-century London.

‘In armour complete’ – or not

Thursday 23 April, Ian Kelly

Actor and historian Ian Kelly, author of the internationally acclaimed recent biographies of Giacomo Casanova and Beau Brummell, brings to the Hunterian a full and sexually frank account of the underside of theatrical and demimonde life in 18th-century Europe. Based on unprecedented access to the medical records of Beau Brummell and the files of the Venetian Inquisition, the stories of these two notorious dandy-libertines provide a unique insight into the risks and rewards for the sexually adventuresome of another age.

Making sex electric:  Dr James Graham and his ‘Celestial Bed’

Wednesday 20 May, Lydia Syson

Lydia Syson tells the story of Britain’s first sex guru, Dr Graham, proprietor of the Temple of Health and Hymen.  His unconventional and flamboyant approach to medicine encapsulated the spectacular and erotic Zeitgeist of the late 18th century. Graham’s ‘Celestial Bed’ used electricity, magnetism, mind-altering gases and musical automata to stimulate ecstasy and conception, and his infamous ‘Lecture on Generation’ taught London’s aristocracy to aim for nothing less than the sexual sublime.

The scandalous Worsleys: sex and celebrity divorce in the 18th century

Thursday 11 June, Hallie Rubenhold

The trial of Maurice George Bisset for ‘criminal conversation’ with Sir Richard Worsley’s wife made headline news in 1782 when details of their private sexual arrangements were revealed. More surprising still were the suggestions that Bisset had been only one of 27 lovers enjoyed by Lady Worsley. Hallie Rubenhold, the author of Lady Worsley’s Whim, discusses the subject of her recent book.

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