A Dirty, Filthy Book Sex, Scandal, and One Woman's Fight in the Victorian Trial of the Century

Hardback (08 Feb 2024)

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Publisher's Synopsis

Michael Meyer has mined the rich seams of history and woven together a fascinating and gripping narrative. Beautifully told, it has echoes for today. I don’t know how he does it. -- Adam Hochschild, author of KING LEOPOLD'S GHOST

London, 1877. A petite young woman stands before an all-male jury, about to risk everything. She takes a breath, and opens her defence.

Annie Besant and her confidant Charles Bradlaugh are on trial for the sordid crime of publishing and selling a birth control pamphlet. Remarkably – forty-five years before the first woman will be admitted to the English bar – Annie is defending herself. Before Britain’s highest judge she declares it is a woman’s right to choose when, and if, to have children. At a time when women were legally and socially subservient to men, Annie’s defiant voice was a sensation. The riveting trial scandalised newspapers, captivated the British public and sparked a debate over morals, censorship and sex.

Drawing on unpublished archives, private papers and courtroom transcripts – and featuring an incredible cast including Queen Victoria, George Bernard Shaw and London itself – A Dirty, Filthy Book tells the gripping story of a forgotten pioneer who refused to accept the role the Establishment assigned to her. Instead, she chose to resist.

Book information

ISBN: 9780753559925
Publisher: Ebury Publishing
Imprint: WH Allen
Pub date:
DEWEY: 304.666094109034
DEWEY edition: 23
Language: English
Sales rank: 54714
Number of pages: vii, 390
Weight: 610g
Height: 165mm
Width: 240mm
Spine width: 37mm