Important acquisitions

Kalogynomia or the laws of female beauty: Being the elementary principles of that science.

Author Bell, Thomas [pseud. of John Roberton]
Title Kalogynomia or the laws of female beauty: Being the elementary principles of that science.
Imprint London: J.J. Stockdale,
Date of Publication 1821
Language English
Notes The Scottish physician John Roberton (1776-1840) was a radical and controversial figure in the medical profession. The true extent of his medical qualifications remains in doubt. He started off as a general practitioner in Edinburgh who specialised in sexually transmitted diseases. In 1809 his first major work, advocating the founding of a medical police force, "A treatise on the medical police, and on diet, regimen, &c." was published in Edinburgh. In the same year he was expelled from the Royal Medical Society for disgraceful conduct and moved to London in 1810, where he published his most famous and controversial work on reproductive system "On diseases of the generative system" the following year. Owing to his reputation and the somewhat sensational nature of the work along with its explicit illustrations, Roberton had some difficulty in finding a publisher for the work, eventually turning to John Joseph Stockdale, who himself had something of a reputation for publishing risqué material. Having ostracised himself from the Edinburgh medical fraternity and fallen foul of most of polite society, Roberton's published work was aimed at the general public who were not put off by poor reviews. He teamed up again with Stockdale to publish this work, "Kalogynomia" in 1821, using his pseudonym Thomas Bell. This work is aimed squarely at a male readership of the middle and upper classes, (this particular copy is from the library of George, Second Marquess of Milford Haven (1892-1938), containing his armorial bookplate); it is ostensibly a guide to the beauty of the female sex, but in reality it is a sex manual. As with his earlier work "On diseases of the generative system", Roberton covers sexual health and generation, with chapters discussing beauty and love, before turning to a more detailed discussion of sexual intercourse, and 'the laws regulating that intercourse'. He concludes his work with a 'Catalogue Raisonné of the defects in female beauty'. A number of plates depict both the male and female sexual organs, and indeed a note of caution is included in the plate description: "Plates 10, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, and 24 should not be carelessly exposed either to Ladies or to Young Persons ... As the work is a scientific one, and calculated both by its mode of construction and by its price for the higher and more reflecting class of readers, and as the Plates above are enumerated are also entirely scientific and anatomical, the publisher might have dispensed with this precaution; but he is anxious that these readers should have it in their power to obviate the possibility of careless exposure of such anatomical plates: they are therefore detached from the work, and may be locked up separately" (p. i). It seems, rare, therefore, to find these plates present as here, bound in throughout the text. Roberton's decision to use a pseudonym and his warning about the graphic nature of some of the illustrations used in the book, clearly reflect the pressures that he and Stockdale felt in light of the public reaction to their previous collaboration. The work provides a fascinating insight into early nineteenth century sexual thought, revealing the sensitivity over the publication of works dealing with such matters, and the fine line in the debate of what was considered to be medical or sexual, anatomical or pornographical.
Shelfmark RB.s.2799
Reference Sources Bookseller's notes
Acquired on 08/10/10
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