Most recent books

See below for articles, chapters, etc

Lesley A. Hall, Sex, Gender and Social Change in Britain since 1880

2nd revised and expanded edition 2012, now available

Palgrave Macmillan, Gender and History series for downloadable pdf of contents, introduction, and index.
cover picture Sex gender and social change


Introduction and chapters 1-11 extensively revised and expanded in the light of new scholarship and research.


Chapter 1: The Victorian Background

Chapter 2: Social purity and evolving sex in the 1880s

Chapter 3: Scientific sex, unspeakable Oscar, and insurgent women in the 'naughty nineties'

Chapter 4: Degenerating nation? Anxieties and protests in a new century

Chapter 5: Divorce, disease, and war

Chapter 6: Roars of rebellion, roars of reaction: the ambivalences of the twenties

Chapter 7: Population fears and progressive agendas during the thirties

Chapter 8: War and the Welfare State

Chapter 9: Domestic ideology and undercurrents of change in the fifties

Chapter 10: Swinging? for whom? The sixties and seventies

Chapter 11: Approaching the millennium

Chapter 12: Into a new millennium: changes and continuities

Coda: Sex, gender and social change in Britain: what next for the historian?

Recommended further reading

(Ed. with Roger Davidson), Sex, Sin and Suffering: venereal diseases in European social context since 1870 (Routledge, 2001) NOW IN PAPERBACK

The intro was jointly written and I also contributed the chapter on 'Venereal diseases in Britain from the Contagious Diseases Acts to the National Health Service'. Online review by Virgina Berridge at Reviews in History, and our response

The Life and Times of Stella Browne: feminist and free spirit, (IB Tauris, now Bloomsbury, 2011)

Naomi Mitchison: A Profile of her life and work, Aqueduct Press Conversation Pieces, 2007

Outspoken Women: Women writing about sex, 1870-1969 (Routledge, 2005)

Articles, chapters, media etc

'R v Bourne (1938)' in Rosemary Auchmuty, Erika Rackley, Mari Takayanagi (eds), Women’s Legal Landmarks in the Interwar Years: Not for Want of Trying (Hart, 2024)

Betwixt The Sheets: The History of Sex, Scandal & Society: Victorian Abortion & Birth Control: Ep. 133 Friday, July 28, 2023: podcast

BBC File on 4: Sex education: Too much too young? 9 May 2023 (snippet of interview at 6.55 mins)

'Send in the Clones?: Naomi Mitchison and the Politics of Reproduction and Motherhood' in James Purdon (ed), Naomi Mitchison: A Writer in Time (2023)

Abortion and Birth Control, on the Victorian Web: Pregnancy and Childbirth in the Age of Victoria

'The Afterlives of Victorian Scandals', in Brenda Ayres, Sarah E. Maier (eds), The Routledge Handbook of Victorian Scandals in Literature and Culture (2023)

'Abortion in the Contemporary United States' [Essay Review], Journal of Women's History, Volume 32, Number 4, Winter 2020

Entries for Dr Norman Haire (2020), and for Eden and Cedar Paul (2018), in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

'The Bedborough Case, 1898: "A Curious Gonfalon Round Which to Fight"', in David Nash, Anne-Marie Kilday (eds), Fair and Unfair Trials in the British Isles, 1800-1940: Microhistories of Justice and Injustice (Bloomsbury, 2020)

'Foreword', to Jessica Borge, Protective Practices: A History of the London Rubber Company and the Condom Business (McGill-Queens UP, 2020)

'Contraception: A Hard Pill to Swallow?' Panel at the Battle of Ideas Festival October 2018

'Movements to separate sex and reproduction', in N. Hopwood, R. Flemming and L. Kassell, Reproduction from Antiquity to the Present Day (Cambridge University Press, 2018)

‘"Sons of Belial": Contaminated/Contaminating Victorian Male Bodies', in Andrew Mangham and Daniel Lea (eds), The Male Body in Medicine and Literature (2018)

Open Conspirators Seek Similar: The Inspiration of H.G. Wells’s Utopian Dreams, The Wellsian, 40, 2017

The British Society of the Study of Sex Psychology: 'Advocating the Culture of Unnatural and Criminal Practices'? in Simon Avery, Katherine M. Graham (eds), Sex, Time and Place: Queer Histories of London, c.1850 to the Present (2016)

'"Sentimental Follies" or "Instruments of Tremendous Uplift"? reconsidering women's same-sex relationships in interwar Britain', Women's History Review, Special Issue: Love, Desire and Melancholy: inspired by Constance Maynard, 2016

'The Victorians: Our Others, Our Selves?' in Kate Fisher and Rebecca Langlands (eds), Sex, Knowledge, and Receptions of the Past, Oxford University Press, 2015

'"A city that we shall never find"? the search for a community of fellow progressive spirits in the UK between the wars', Family and Community History, 18, 2015

Entries on 'Sexology and Feminism' and 'Venereal diseases, history' in Patricia Whelehan and Anne Bolin (eds), The International Encyclopedia of Human Sexuality, Wiley-Blackwell, 2015

'Sexology without Frontiers? Sexual Science in the UK in the 20th Century - Records in the Wellcome Library and Beyond', Sexuologie - Zeitschrift für Sexualmedizin, Sexualtherapie und Sexualwissenschaft, Band 20 / 2013

'Sexual Diseases post-1750' in Sarah Toulalan, Kate Fisher (eds) The Routledge History of Sex and the Body, 1500 to the Present, 2013 publishers' info

The Subject is Obscene: No Lady Would Dream of Alluding to it": Marie Stopes' courtroom dramas', Women's History Review, special issue on 'Performing the Self: Women's Lives in Historical Perspective', 2013

'Articulating abortion in interwar Britain', Women's History Magazine, Issue 70, Autumn 2012

'Sessualita e storia: obiettive raggiunti e sfide future', 'In Evidenza: Sessualita e storia', Contemporanea, XIV/4, ottobre 2011: English version, Sexuality and history: achievements and challenges. A personal view

'An ambiguous idol: HG Wells inspiring and infuriating women', The Wellsian, special 'Ann Veronica' issue, Vol 34, 2011

‘"The wo that is in marriage": Abstinence in practice and principle in British marriages, 1890s-1940s', in Leen van Molle, Kaat Wils and Evert Peeters (eds) Beyond Pleasure: Cultures of Modern Asceticism, Berghahn Books, 2011

'Finding Female Healthcare Workers in the Archives', Women's History Magazine, no 65, Spring 2011

'No Sex, Please, We're Socialists': The Labour Party prefers to close its eyes and think of the electorate', Socialist History, 36, 2010

with Lucy Bland, 'Eugenics in Britain: The view from the metropole', in The Oxford Handbook of the History of Eugenics, 2010, Alison Bashford and Philippa Levine (eds)

'Beyond Madame Curie? The Invisibility of Women's Narratives in Science' in L Timmel Duchamp (ed), Narrative Power: Encounters, Celebrations, Struggles, Aqueduct Press, 2010

'In Ignorance and in Knowledge: reflections on the history of sex education in Britain', in Roger Davidson and Lutz Sauerteig (eds) Shaping Sexual Knowledge: A Cultural History of Sex Education in Twentieth Century Europe, Routledge, 2009

'Stella Browne and the German Radical Sex Reform Tradition', in Sisters of Subversion: Histories of Women, Tales of Gender: A Festschrift edited by Willem de Blecourt, AMB Amsterdam, 2008

'Eugenics, sex and the state: some introductory remarks', Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Vol 39, 2008

'Prostitution' in The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Love, Courtship, and Sexuality Through History Vol 5, The Nineteenth Century, edited by Susan Mumm, Greenwood Press, 2007

'Arrows of desire: British sex utopians and the politics of health', in Medicine, Madness and Social History: Essays in memory of Roy Porter, edited by Roberta Bivins and John Pickstone, Palgrave Macmillan, 2007

'Sex Research: History', in Encyclopedia of Sociology, edited by George Ritzer, Blackwell, 2007

'Havelock Ellis', in John Merriman and J. M. Winter (Eds) Scribner Library of Modern Europe - Europe 1789 to 1914: Encyclopedia of the Age of Industry and Empire, Thomson Gale (2006).

'A masculine mythology suppressing and distorting all the facts': British women contesting the concept of the male-as-norm, 1870-1930' in Histories of the Normal and the Abnormal: Social and cultural histories of norms and normativity, edited by Waltraud Ernst, Routledge, 2006

Entries on Abortion, Birth Control, Censorship, Eugenics and Sexology, and on Pamela Frankau, E Arnot Robertson, G B Stern, Marie Stopes and Violet Hunt in Faye Hammill, Ashlie Sponenberg, Esme Miskimmin, Encyclopedia of British Women's Writing 1900-1950, Palgrave Macmillan, 2006

'Sexuality and the Psyche', in The Companion to Europe, 1900-1945, edited by Gordon Martel, Blackwell, 2005

'Sexuality', in A Companion to Contemporary Britain: 1939-2000, edited by Paul Addison and Harriet Jones, Blackwell, 2005

'What shall we do with the poxy sailor? venereal diseases in the British mercantile marine, 1850-1950, Journal of Maritime Research, Vol 6 no 1, Oct 2004

Entries for William Acton, F. W. Stella Browne, Eustace Chesser, Margaret Shurmer Sibthorp, Marie Stopes, Charlotte Carmichael Stopes, Alice Vickery, Helen Wilson, and Helena Wright, in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004

'"A deep debt of gratitude for your heroic frankness": Marie Stopes, marriage advice, and readers' reactions', in La Mediazione Matrimoniale: Il terzo (in)comodo in Europa fra Otto e Novecento , edited by Bruno Wanrooij, Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, Rome, 2004

'Women pioneers of nutrition and paediatric gastroenterology in the UK', in John Walker Smith and W. Allan Walker (eds), A Concise History of Paediatric Gastroenterology (Chipping Norton: Bladon Medical Publishing, 2004)

'Sexuality', in The Companion to Nineteenth Century Britain, edited by Chris Williams, Blackwell, 2004

'Hauling down the Double Standard: feminism, social purity, and sexual science in late nineteenth century Britain', Gender and History, Vol 16 no 1, April 2004

'No sex please, we’re socialists: the British Labour Party closes its eyes and thinks of the electorate', in Meetings & Alcoves: The Left and Sexuality in Europe and the United States since 1850, edited by Jesse Battan, Thomas Bouchet and Tania Regin Territoires contemporains, cahiers de l’IHC, (l’Institut d’histoire contemporain, Dijon), no. 8, 2004

'"In great haste": the personal and the political in the letters of F. W. Stella Browne (1880-1955), feminist socialist sex radical', in Gender and Politics in the Age of Letter-Writing: 1750-2000, edited by Caroline Bland and Maire Cross, Ashgate, 2004

'Pain and the Erotic', on the website in connection with the Wellcome Trust/Science Museum exhibition 'Pain', Feb 2004

'Birds, Bees and General Embarrassment: sex education in Britain from social purity to Section 28', in Public or Private Education?: Lessons from History, edited by Richard Aldrich, Woburn Press, 2004

'Eyes tightly shut, lying rigidly still and thinking of England? British women and sex from Marie Stopes to Hite', in Sexual Pedagogies: Teaching Sex in America, Britain, and Australia, 1879-2000, edited by Michelle Martin and Claudia Nelson, Palgrave (2003)

'"It was the doctors who were suffering from it": the history of masturbatory insanity revisited', in Paedagogica Historica: International Journal of the History of Education 39/6 Dec 2003

with Adrian Steel, 'Sir Henry Wellcome's archival legacy and the contemporary historian', Contemporary British History, 17/3, Summer 2003

Entries for 'Contraception' and 'Sex' in the Oxford Companion to the History of Modern Science (2003)

'"The Reserved Occupation"? Prostitution in the Second World War', Women's History Magazine, no 41, June 2002

'Introduction', History in Focus (online journal of the Institute of Historical Research 'Medical History Issue', July 2002

'"Arrows of Desire": British Sexual Utopians of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century and the Politics of Health', in Free Love and the Labour Movement: papers presented at the workshop 'Free Love and the Labour Movement', International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam, 6-7 October 2000, International Institute of Social History Research Papers 40, Amsterdam, 2001

'Eugenics' in the Oxford Illustrated Companion to Medicine, 2001

'Illustrations from the Wellcome Library: A "remarkable collection": the papers of Frederick Parkes Weber FRCP (1863-1962)' Medical History, 45, 2001

'Archives of the Pioneer Health Centre, Peckham, in the Wellcome Library' in Social History of Medicine, 14, 2001

Entries for 'Abortion', 'Birth Control' and 'Sex Education' (in the British context), and on the trials for obscenity of Havelock Ellis's Sexual Inversion and Eustace Chesser's Love without fear in Censorship: An International Encyclopedia, edited by Derek Jones, Fitzroy Dearborn, 2001

'"A suitable job for a woman"?: women doctors and birth control before 1950' in Women and Modern Medicine, edited by Larry Conrad and Anne Hardy, Rodopi (2001): Clio Medica 61

Entries in the Oxford Companion to the Body, Oxford University Press (2001), on abortion, clitoris, condom, contraception, eroticism, fetishism, freemartin, hermaphrodite, impotence, libido, masturbation, necrophilia, paedophilia, perversion, sexuality, sexual orientation, sado-masochism, transvestism, vasectomy; further details

'Sexuality', Women in Twentieth Century Britain, edited by Ina Zweiniger-Bargielowska,Pearson Educational, 2001

'The Next Generation; Stella Browne, the new woman as freewoman', in Angelique Richardson and Chris Willis, The New Woman in Fiction and Fact, London, Palgrave/Macmillan: 2001: now in paperback further info

'Masturbation', in Peter N Stearns (ed.), Encyclopedia of European Social History, Vol. 4, New York: Charles Scribners Sons, 2000

Entries for 'Malthusianism', 'Venereal Disease' and 'Women in Science: medicine', in Reader's Guide to the History of Science, edited by Arne Hessenbruch, Fitzroy Dearborn, 2000: further info

'"Not a domestic utensil, but a woman and a citizen": Stella Browne on women, health and society' in Regenerating England: science, medicine and culture in inter-war Britain, edited by Chris Lawrence and Anna-K Mayer, Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2000: Clio Medica 60

(Ed.) Marie Stopes: Birth Control and Other Writings 5 volumes, Bristol, Thoemmes Press: 2000 further info

'The Sexual Body' in Medicine in the Twentieth Century, edited by Roger Cooter and John Pickstone, Harwood International, 2000: further info

'Malthusian Mutations: the changing political perceptions and moral meanings of birth control in Britain' in Malthus, Medicine, and Morality: 'Malthusianism' since 1798, edited by Brian Dolan, Rodopi, 2000: Clio Medica 59

'"War always brings it on'": War, STDs, the military, and the civilian population in Britain, 1850-1950' in Medicine and Modern Warfare, edited by Roger Cooter, Mark Harrison, and Steve Sturdy, Amsterdam, Rodopi, 2000: Clio Medica 55

'"What a lot there is still to do': Stella Browne (1880-1955) carrying the struggle ever onward', in A Suffrage Reader: Charting directions in British suffrage history, 1850-1950, edited by Claire Eustance, Joan Ryan, and Laura Ugolini, Leicester University Press/Cassell, 2000

Published in May 1999:

Franz Eder, Lesley Hall and Gert Hekma

Sexual Cultures in Europe:

National Histories


Themes in Sexuality

from Manchester University Press

Contents information

National Overviews

Introduction by the editors

Sexual cultures in Great Britain: Some persisting themes
Lesley A. Hall

Religion and Sexual Culture in Ireland
Tony Fahey

The Netherlands: Neither Prudish nor Hedonistic
Harry Oosterhuis

Sex and Sexuality in France since 1800
Robert A. Nye

Italy: Sexuality, morality, and public authority: metaphors and interventionism
Bruno P. F. Wanrooij

Sexual Cultures in Germany and Austria, 1700-2000
Franz X. Eder

Spain: the political and social context of sex reform in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries
Richard M. Cleminson & Efigenio Amezúa

Sexuality and politics in Russia (1700-2000)
Igor S. Kon

Sexual Science and Sex Reform

Medical Science and the Modernisation of Sexuality
Harry Oosterhuis

The World League for Sexual Reform: Some Possible Approaches
Ralf Dose

Themes in Sexuality