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Home › News › Seedy side of 18th century London revealed in 'adults-only' lectures at Hunterian Museum

Seedy side of 18th century London revealed in 'adults-only' lectures at Hunterian Museum

04 March 2009

The murky world of sexual intrigue and scandal in 18th Century London is the theme of a series of public evening lectures to be held at London’s Hunterian Museum this Spring. Inspired by the museum’s exhibits – including a sheep-gut condom and syphilitic skulls from the 18th century – four leading authors explore the weird and sometimes dangerous sex-lives of some of Georgian Britain’s most notorious figures.

“Sex and medicine have always gone hand-in-hand,” said Simon Chaplin, Director of the Hunterian Museum. “From sex-addiction to adultery, teenage pregnancy to venereal disease, sex was big business for Georgian doctors. It was certainly part of the experience of a leading surgeon like John Hunter. These lectures will lift the blanket on the tangled love-lives of some of his friends, patients and contemporaries.”

The Evening Lecture series, which is for adults-only, includes:

  • The Surgeon, the Countess, her husband and his lover – Thursday 19 March, 7pm – Hunter biographer Wendy Moore discusses how John Hunter and his friend the Countess of Strathmore were drawn into the clandestine world of illegitimate babies and abortions.
  • ‘In armour complete’ – or not – Thursday 23 April, 7pm – actor and historian Ian Kelly gives a frank account the dandy-libertine lifestyles of Giacomo Casanova and Beau Brummell.
  • Making sex electric: Dr James Graham and his ‘celestial bed’ – Wednesday 20 May, 7pm – Lydia Syson tells the story of Britain’s first sex guru and his unconventional and flamboyant approach to medicine.
  • The scandalous Worsleys: sex and celebrity divorce in the 18th Century – Thursday 11 June, 7pm – Hallie Rubenhold discusses the infamous trial of Maurice George Bisset and the 27 other lovers of Lady Worsley.

Tickets cost £5, booking essential on 020 7869 6560.

The Hunterian Museum will be open on the night to ticket holders from 6pm




Notes to Editors

  1. The Royal College of Surgeons of England is committed to enabling surgeons to achieve and maintain the highest standards of surgical practice and patient care. Registered charity number: 212808. For more information please visit
  2. If you have any queries please contact:

Matthew Worrall – Email:; T: 020 7869 6047

Elaine Towell – Email:; T: 020 7869 6045

Out-of hours: 07966 486 832