I remember being a fairly young kid, lets’ say junior high school age, and seeing a copy of The Joy of Sex for the first time. I was over a friend’s house and her parents had a copy on their bookshelf. I found the hippieish couple featured in the book hard to identify with but I was still enthralled with all the things you could do with, or to, other people sexually. Well, licking a hairy underarm pit made Jr. high school me go “eeewww” (and in truth is not something I choose to do today but I won’t yuck anyone’s yum) but most of the stuff looked cool.
You may be surprised to know that sex manuals didn’t start in the free love 60s and 70s. Nor were they limited to the Kama Sutra. You can find them scattered around history, from ancient to Victorian. It not only took a village to raise a child but it often took a village to teach women how to have them, and often even how to enjoy practicing sex in general.
There’s actually too many for me to write in full about each one in one post. Here is a list of some of the more significant sex manuals, up to The Joy of Sex, just to give you an idea of how far back we’ve been writing about sex. I’ll go into depth on each on in future posts.
3BC or 4BC – Untitled manual written by Philaenis of Samos
3BC – The Kama Sutra by Vatsyayana Mallanaga
900AD – The Canons of Theodore by Theodore
2nd Century – Ars Amatoria (Art of Love) by Ovid
11th Century – Elephantis by Constantine the African
11th Century – Liber de Coitu by Constantine the African
15th Century – Speculum Al Foderi (Mirror of Coitus) by author unknown
15th century – The Perfumed Garden of Sensual Delight by Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad al-Nafzawi
16th Century – Ananga Ranga (Stage of Love) by Kalyana Malla
1680 – The School of Venus by Michel Millot
Late 19th century – The Wedding Night and Right Marital Living by Ida Craddock
1906 – Treatise on Cohabitation by Moses Maimonides
1917 – Private Sex Advice to Women by R.B. Armitage
1918 – Married Love by Marie Stopes (Considered groundbreaking at the time)
1926 – Het Volkomen Huwelijk (The Perfect Marriage) by Theodoor Hendrik Van De
Velde English Translation: Ideal Marriage: It’s Physiology and Technique 1930
1963 – An ABZ of Love by Inge and Sten Hegeler
1969 – Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex but Were Afraid to Ask by David Reuben
1972 – The Joy of Sex by Alex Comfort
Last modified: March 28, 2017
[…] while back, I did an article listing early sex manuals. Inspired by Women’s History Month and a desire to delve deeper into a book off the list, I […]