A Victorian-era sex guide has opened our eyes to the disturbing attitudes of the time.

A rediscovered Victorian-era guide called Sex Tips For Husbands and Wives, that was republished for the first time since 1894, is revealing some of the rather interesting bedroom attitudes of that period.

As it turns out, oral sex and doggy style were considered “abnormal”.

The book states:

“Most men are by nature rather perverted, and if given half a chance, would engage in quite a variety of the most revolting practices. These practices include, among others: performing the normal act in abnormal positions; mouthing the female body; and offering their own vile bodies to be mouthed in turn.”


The eye-opening guide to married sex was written by a vicar’s wife by the name of Ruth Smythers. She was married to Reverend L.D. Smythers of the Arcadian Methodist Church.


Not only were couples of that time fond of missionary position, they also didn’t seem to have been very fond of sex, seemingly following a set of unwritten rules that might leave you wondering how they managed to reproduce at all.

They include:

Headaches being frequently used as a sex diversion;

“Feigned illness, sleepiness, and headaches are among [a woman’s] best friend in this matter.”

No makeup sex. A fight means game O-V-E-R;

“Arguments, nagging, scolding, and bickering also prove very effective [in putting a man off sex], if used in the late evening.”


Victorian couples didn't seem to enjoy sex, or do it very well. Image: iStock

Sex only happened when it was completely dark;

"Sex, when it cannot be prevented, should be practised only in total darkness."

Pretending you need to wee is a great way to get out of having sex.

"If he lifts her gown and attempts to kiss her any place else she should quickly pull the gown back in place, spring from the bed, and announce that nature calls her to the toilet."

And if a married couple did manage to have sex...

No foreplay;

"If he attempts to kiss her on the lips she should turn her head slightly so that the kiss falls harmlessly on her cheek instead. If he attempts to kiss her hand she should make a fist."

No enthusiasm;

"Give little, give seldom and above all, give grudgingly. Most men, if not denied, would demand sex almost every day."

No talking;

"She will be absolutely silent or babble about her housework while he is huffing and puffing away."

No moving, grunting or groaning.

"She will lie perfectly still and never under any circumstances grunt or groan while the act is in progress."

And just in case you aren't yet sold on this book, consider this.

Victorian couples referred to martial sex as "wifely duty". The over-arching message of the book is that sex is annoying, horrible, unenjoyable and unsatisfying.

Thank goodness, those times have changed exponentially.

Sex Tips for Husbands and Wives from 1894 by Ruth Smythers is available in bookstores and online.


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