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Sexual Crime


Key Reading

  • Clive Emsley, Crime and Society, 1750-1900, chapter 4

Further Reading

Further reading on sexual crime may be found here.

  • C. Bacchi and J. Jose, 'Historicising Sexual Harrassment', Women's History Review, 3 (1994), pp. 263-70
  • Lois Bibbings, Binding Men: Stories about Law and Violence in Victorian England
  • A. Clark, Women's Silence, Men's Violence: Sexual Assault in England, 1770-1845
  • Harry Cocks, Nameless Offences: Homosexual Desire in the Nineteenth Century
  • C. Conley, ‘Rape and Justice in Victorian England’, Victorian Studies, 29 (1986)
  • C. Conley, The Unwritten Law: Criminal Justice in Victorian Kent
  • S. D’Cruze, Crimes of Outrage: Sex, Violence and Victorian Working Women
  • S. D'Cruze, 'Sex, violence and local courts: working-class respectability in a mid-nineteenth-century Lancashire town', British Journal of Criminology, 39 (1999)
  • Deborah Gorham, 'The "Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon" re-examined : child prostitution and the idea of childhood in late Victorian England.' Victorian Studies, 21 (1978)
  • Philip Howell, ‘A private Contagious Diseases Act: prostitution and public space in Victorian Cambridge’, Journal of Historical Geography, 2000
  • Louise A. Jackson, Child sexual abuse in Victorian England
  • Morris Kaplan, 'Did "My Lord Gomorrah Smile? : homosexuality class and prostitution in the Cleveland Street Affair', in George Robb and Nancy Erber (eds), Disorder in the Court
  • Philippa Levine, ‘A multitude of unchaste women: prostitution in the British empire’, Journal of Women’s History, 2004
  • Anne-Marie Kilday and David Nash, Cultures of Shame, especially chapter 6
  • Roy Porter, ‘Rape: Does it Have a Historical Meaning?’, in S. Tomaselli and Roy Porter, Rape
  • A. Simpson, ‘Vulnerability and the Age of Female Consent: Legal Innovation and its Effect on Prosecution for Rape in Eighteenth-Century London’, in G. S. Rousseau and R. Porter (eds), Sexual Underworlds of the Enlightenment
  • R. Trumbach, 'Sex, Gender and Sexual Identity in Modern Culture: Male Sodomy and Female Prostitution in Englightenment London', Journal of the History of Sexuality, 2 (1991), pp. 186-203
  • D. M. Turner, ‘Popular Marriage and the Law: Tales of Bigamy at the Eighteenth-Century Old Bailey’, London Journal, 30:1 (2005), pp. 6–21.
  • Judy Walkowitz, Prostitution and Victorian Society
  • Judy Walkowitz, City of Dreadful Delight
  • Bridget Walsh, Domestic Murder in Nineteenth Century England


  • How were the figures of the prostitute/sodomite constructed in this period?
  • Why did women become prostitutes?
  • Did regulation create a geography of prostitution (including in the British empire)?
  • What solutions did contemporaries have for the problem of vice in the nineteenth-century city and how successful were they?
  • Did the 'Maiden tribute of modern Babylon' episode reveal more about the tabloid press than about child prostitution?
  • Was domestic violence a fact of everyday life in Victorian England?
  • What does a study of sexual crime reveal about class and gender in Victorian Britain?
  • How did local communities react to sexual offenders?