Close Modal

Kinky History

A Rollicking Journey through Our Sexual Past, Present, and Future

Look inside
Hardcover
$30.00 US
7.3"W x 9.3"H x 1.05"D   | 21 oz | 12 per carton
On sale Jun 18, 2024 | 320 Pages | 978-0-593-71690-8
A provocative journey through human sexual history, packed with fun factoids and forgotten stories, from the historian and storyteller behind Kinky History, @esme.louisee on TikTok

Contrary to popular belief, our predecessors had all sorts of obscene hobbies long before Christian Grey hit the scene. In this enlightening romp, learn about the first instances of homosexuality on record from the ancient world and the diverse history of nonbinary gender; encounter a thousand years’ worth of hilarious and horrifying contraceptive methods; consider the positive and negative effects of the widespread availability of pornography in the digital age—and how our relationship to it changed during the pandemic; take a sneaky riffle through centuries of bedside drawers; and discover the dirty little secrets of luminaries such as Julius Caesar, James Joyce, Albert Einstein, and Virginia Woolf.
   Esmé Louise James also identifies the key tipping points that directly inform current beliefs around sex to place the past in conversation with the present. By educating ourselves about the weird, wonderful, and varied spectrum of human sexuality and experience, we can normalize and destigmatize sex, write people of marginalized sexual identities back into the pages of history, and build toward a more liberated future.
"Kinky History may not be the most fun you can have with your clothes on, because, well, you can have sex while still dressed. Regardless, Esmé Louise James’s book is a riotous romp that is entertaining, educational, empathetic, and inclusive. I loved it."—James Fell, author of On This Day in History Sh!t Went Down

“Who knew that history could be so…kinky? Esmé Louise James offers a lesson in history that you most definitely did not receive in school. She shows how, by looking into the past, we can learn a lot about sex in the present, including the root sources of sexual shame. This book shows how the path to modern sexual liberation starts with a comprehensive understanding of the history of sex, kinks and all.” —Justin J. Lehmiller, Ph.D., Host of the Sex and Psychology Podcast and author of Tell Me What You Want

"Bold and enlightening, Kinky History is a radical journey through the evolution of human intimacy. It’s a thrilling reminder of the need to break taboos and forge a sex-positive future. Not just a book, it’s a compelling call to sexual understanding and acceptance."—Chantelle Otten, author of The Sex Ed You Never Had
 
"A feast for the mind and the imagination, featuring histories you definitely didn't learn in school. Best served over multiple sittings, it will leave you more than satisfied."—Dr. Amy Thunig, author of Tell Me Again
 
"Esmé is wonderfully knowledgeable and passionate about the history of all things sex. Her unbridled enthusiasm is infectious, making it hard not to be drawn into the fascinating world of Kinky History!"—Dr. Matt Agnew, author of Dr. Matt's Guide to Life in Space
 
Non-fiction pick of the week: "Far from being academic, it's a tale told with relish and humor ... A colorful study, often told in a suitably picaresque style."Sydney Morning Herald
 
"Friendly and accessible ... a fun book and an important one as it explores five 'kinks' that may challenge how we think about sex."Books+Publishing
 
"Written with obvious relish, Kinky History is fun and informative."ArtsHub

"Like James herself, Kinky History is hilarious, thoughtful, nuanced, and driven by academic research. It’s both a compendium of incredible historical tidbits about everything from ancient dildos to tentacle porn, and a plea to treat our sexual desires with empathy and understanding. If only every history book were as compelling, we’d be destined to never forget the past."—Dr Hallie Libermann, author of Buzz: A Stimulating History of Sex Toys
Esmé Louise James (@esme.louisee) is best known for her Kinky History series on TikTok, and she has three million followers across social media platforms. James is a PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne; her thesis investigates the emerging genre of the pornographic novel in the eighteenth century. James also presents the popular Kinky History podcast, was a speaker at TEDxSydney in 2022, and was nominated for Best Digital Creator at the 2022 AACTA Awards.

Dr. Susan James is a Senior Outreach Fellow in the School of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Melbourne. Susan has a master of arts in mathematics from Cambridge University and a master of science and a PhD in medical statistics from the University of Leicester. With her daughter Esmé, Susan jointly created TikTok’s SexTistics series, funded by Screen Australia, in 2022. View titles by Esmé Louise James

About

A provocative journey through human sexual history, packed with fun factoids and forgotten stories, from the historian and storyteller behind Kinky History, @esme.louisee on TikTok

Contrary to popular belief, our predecessors had all sorts of obscene hobbies long before Christian Grey hit the scene. In this enlightening romp, learn about the first instances of homosexuality on record from the ancient world and the diverse history of nonbinary gender; encounter a thousand years’ worth of hilarious and horrifying contraceptive methods; consider the positive and negative effects of the widespread availability of pornography in the digital age—and how our relationship to it changed during the pandemic; take a sneaky riffle through centuries of bedside drawers; and discover the dirty little secrets of luminaries such as Julius Caesar, James Joyce, Albert Einstein, and Virginia Woolf.
   Esmé Louise James also identifies the key tipping points that directly inform current beliefs around sex to place the past in conversation with the present. By educating ourselves about the weird, wonderful, and varied spectrum of human sexuality and experience, we can normalize and destigmatize sex, write people of marginalized sexual identities back into the pages of history, and build toward a more liberated future.

Praise

"Kinky History may not be the most fun you can have with your clothes on, because, well, you can have sex while still dressed. Regardless, Esmé Louise James’s book is a riotous romp that is entertaining, educational, empathetic, and inclusive. I loved it."—James Fell, author of On This Day in History Sh!t Went Down

“Who knew that history could be so…kinky? Esmé Louise James offers a lesson in history that you most definitely did not receive in school. She shows how, by looking into the past, we can learn a lot about sex in the present, including the root sources of sexual shame. This book shows how the path to modern sexual liberation starts with a comprehensive understanding of the history of sex, kinks and all.” —Justin J. Lehmiller, Ph.D., Host of the Sex and Psychology Podcast and author of Tell Me What You Want

"Bold and enlightening, Kinky History is a radical journey through the evolution of human intimacy. It’s a thrilling reminder of the need to break taboos and forge a sex-positive future. Not just a book, it’s a compelling call to sexual understanding and acceptance."—Chantelle Otten, author of The Sex Ed You Never Had
 
"A feast for the mind and the imagination, featuring histories you definitely didn't learn in school. Best served over multiple sittings, it will leave you more than satisfied."—Dr. Amy Thunig, author of Tell Me Again
 
"Esmé is wonderfully knowledgeable and passionate about the history of all things sex. Her unbridled enthusiasm is infectious, making it hard not to be drawn into the fascinating world of Kinky History!"—Dr. Matt Agnew, author of Dr. Matt's Guide to Life in Space
 
Non-fiction pick of the week: "Far from being academic, it's a tale told with relish and humor ... A colorful study, often told in a suitably picaresque style."Sydney Morning Herald
 
"Friendly and accessible ... a fun book and an important one as it explores five 'kinks' that may challenge how we think about sex."Books+Publishing
 
"Written with obvious relish, Kinky History is fun and informative."ArtsHub

"Like James herself, Kinky History is hilarious, thoughtful, nuanced, and driven by academic research. It’s both a compendium of incredible historical tidbits about everything from ancient dildos to tentacle porn, and a plea to treat our sexual desires with empathy and understanding. If only every history book were as compelling, we’d be destined to never forget the past."—Dr Hallie Libermann, author of Buzz: A Stimulating History of Sex Toys

Author

Esmé Louise James (@esme.louisee) is best known for her Kinky History series on TikTok, and she has three million followers across social media platforms. James is a PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne; her thesis investigates the emerging genre of the pornographic novel in the eighteenth century. James also presents the popular Kinky History podcast, was a speaker at TEDxSydney in 2022, and was nominated for Best Digital Creator at the 2022 AACTA Awards.

Dr. Susan James is a Senior Outreach Fellow in the School of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Melbourne. Susan has a master of arts in mathematics from Cambridge University and a master of science and a PhD in medical statistics from the University of Leicester. With her daughter Esmé, Susan jointly created TikTok’s SexTistics series, funded by Screen Australia, in 2022. View titles by Esmé Louise James