City of Sin: London and Its Vices
Catharine Arnold

City of Sin: London and Its Vices

If Paris is the city of love, then London is the city of lust. For over a thousand years, England's capital has been associated with desire, avarice and the sins of the flesh. Richard of Devises, a monk writing in 1180, warned that 'every quarter [of the city] abounds in great obscenities'. As early as the second century AD, London was notorious for its raucous festivities and disorderly houses, and throughout the centuries the bawdy side of life has taken easy root and flourished. In the third book of her fascinating London trilogy, award-winning popular historian Catharine Arnold turns her gaze to the city's relationship with vice through the ages. From the bath houses and brothels of Roman Londinium, to the stews and Molly houses of the 17th and 18th centuries, London has always traded in the currency of sex. Whether pornographic publishers on Fleet Street, or fancy courtesans parading in Haymarket, its streets have long been witness to colourful sexual behaviour. In her usual accessible and entertaining style, Arnold takes us on a journey through the fleshpots of London from earliest times to present day. Here are buxom strumpets, louche aristocrats, popinjay politicians and Victorian flagellants - all vying for their place in London's league of licentiousness. From sexual exuberance to moral panic, the city has seen the pendulum swing from Puritanism to hedonism and back again. With latter chapters looking at Victorian London and the sexual underground of the 20th century and beyond, this is a fascinating and vibrant chronicle of London at its most raw and ribald.

Book Details:

  • Author: Catharine Arnold
  • Published Year: 2010
  • All rights are available

Catharine Arnold

Catharine Arnold is the author of the much-acclaimed London quartet, a series of books about the dark side of the capital, consisting of Necropolis, London and its Dead, Bedlam, London and its Mad, City of Sin, London and its Vices and Underworld, London City of Crime and Punishment. (All Simon & Schuster). City of Sin has been published in the United States as The Sexual History of London (St Martin’s Press.) Catharine Arnold’s latest book, Globe, Life in Shakespeare’s London was published by Simon and Schuster in April 2015. Catharine’s first novel, Lost Time, ...
More about Catharine Arnold

Book Reviews

  • "Arnold is a delightful travelling companion."
    Jeanette Winterson, The Times
  • "Fascinating and colourful."
    The Observer
  • "Richly detailed."
    Sunday Times
  • "With a keen eye for detail and unfrilly prose, Arnold brings alive the whole spectrum of sin in London."
    Mail on Sunday
  • "There's plenty to get stuck into here. Arnold arranges her formidable research lucidly . . . she's also alive to eye-catching incidental characters."
    Evening Standard
  • "To pack 2000 years of vice into less than 400 pages is a challenge, but Arnold achieves it admirably."
    Independent