Julie Peakman

A History of Opium

Opium has been known and used for more than 7,000 years. A brilliantly researched and wide-ranging study brings its history up to date.

Mesmerism In Victorian London

Mesmerism was a short-lived phenomenon, but its most celebrated British exponent, John Elliotson, attracted large crowds, which incensed his rivals. 

Prostitution in Ireland

Life for the poor in 18th- and 19th-century Ireland was hard and, for many women, prostitution was the only option. But the bawdy houses were rife with disease and police did little to protect women from violent customers.

The Two Joans' Agendas

Adopting the guise of a man was a path to influence for medieval women. It could be a dangerous one, too.

Mighty Lewd Books

As the erotic novel appears to be experiencing a renaissance Julie Peakman reflects on 18th-century appetites for pornography.

Medieval Desire: Poise and Passion in the Middle Ages

Courtly love, celebrated in numerous songs and poems, was the romantic ideal of western Europe in the Middle Ages. Yet, human nature being what it is, the realities of sexual desire and the complications it brings were never far away, says Julie Peakman.

Blaming and Shaming in Whores’ Memoirs

Sex, scandals and celebrity were all part of a blame and shame culture that existed in the 18th century, one that often fed off the misfortune of women at the hands of men. Prostitutes, courtesans and ladies with injured reputations took up the pen in retaliation.