4 May 2017

My next book - it's happening!

I'm very pleased and excited to confirm that McFarland have agreed to publish my second book, working title To Deprave and Corrupt: Britain's Battle with Obscenity. I'm about halfway through writing it and the deadline is mid-November 2017. 
So, what the dickens is this new book all about?

Well, 2017 marks the 160th anniversary of The Obscene Publications Act, which amazingly, still controls freedom of expression in the UK. The Act defined obscenity as anything “with the tendency to deprave and corrupt,” yet no one has ever been able to agree on what this actually means...

In the 1600s, you could be thrown in the stocks for criticising the king or the Church, but the law was less bothered about smutty literature. Occasional prosecutions for publishing risque books occurred, but generally the term "pervert" was synonymous with "atheist" until relatively recently. It wasn't until 1857 that an actual law on obscenity came into play, but this didn't stop erotica flourishing during the Victorian era - sample book titles included Lady Bumtickler's Revels and The Story of a Dildo!

The trial of Lady Chatterley's Lover in 1960 is a well-known example of literature winning out against obscenity law, but there is no book that tells the story of what led up to this landmark case, or what came after it - hence me deciding to create it. The modern version of the Obscene Publications Act came into force in 1959, yet it still governs what we can and can't see on TV, film, online, in magazines, books or on the radio. You might well ask; how can such an old law still be relevant?!

Through interviews with porn performers, online safety specialists, magazine editors and free speech advocates, I'll look at how we've arrived at our current situation--which is much more censor-happy than most people realise--and what needs to change. 

The chapter titles/topics include:

1. The Current Situation: Why face-sitting is currently banned in UK porn

2. Then and Now: From mid-17th century heretics to the Victorians

3. Won’t Somebody Please Think of the Children?! Justifying censorship in the name of innocence

4: A Very Great Mischief: How lesbians have been erased from British law and history

5: 20th Century Smut: How Britain continued to lag behind Europe in sexual freedom

6: Women Don’t Want That Sort of Thing: The gendering of obscenity law

7: That Special Relationship: Britain and America's parallel journeys

8: Shoving it Down Our Throats: The demonising of gay men by conservatives and Conservatives

9: Privilege and Platforms: Obscenity in the Modern World

I think this is a story which really needs telling in an accessible manner, not least because of its implications for free speech and the regulation of sexuality. I can't wait for it to be released and hope you are as excited as I am!

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