Genders and Sexualities in History

Wolfenden's Women

Prostitution in Post-war Britain

Authors: Caslin, Samantha, Laite, Julia

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  • Compiles the documents, including the memoranda of evidence and witness testimonies, related to the Wolfenden Committee’s extensive investigations into prostitution
  • Provides an important corrective to the one-sided history of the Committee and the Report
  • Challenges the way in which the Report’s approach to public and private sexuality has been characterized
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eBook £67.99
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  • ISBN 978-1-137-44022-8
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Hardcover £85.00
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About this book

This critical sourcebook compiles excerpts from the extensive interviews undertaken by the Wolfenden Committee on the subject of prostitution. The Committee is remembered, first and foremost, for recommending the decriminalization of sex between men. However, the other half of its remit—prostitution—has largely been forgotten, despite the fact that prostitution, not homosexuality, was the original impetus behind the Committee’s appointment. If we consider the Committee and its Report from this perspective, its status as both a liberal and permissive endeavour must be called into question. This book captures the controversy, diversity and complexity of opinions surrounding prostitution in this period, and provides critical analysis and context. It restores the question of prostitution to its central place in the history of Britain’sso-called progressive era and challenges the way that the Report and its legacy have been characterized. Crucially, this book highlights the substantial evidence gathered by the Committee on prostitution outside of London, which the Wolfenden Report itself largely disregarded. The excerpts, the reprinted report, and the critical introductions to each chapter are intended to spark important debates amongst students, researchers and the public about the history of sexuality, society and the state in twentieth-century Britain. 

About the authors

Julia Laite, is Reader in Modern History at the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology at Birkbeck, University of London, UK. She researches and teaches on the history of women, crime, sexuality and migration in the nineteenth and twentieth-century British world. She is the author of Common Prostitutes and Ordinary Citizens: Commercial Sex in London (Palgrave, 2012), and The Girl Who Disappears: Sex, Work and Crime in the Early Twentieth Century World (forthcoming in 2021).
Samantha Caslin, is Lecturer in History at the Department of History at the University of Liverpool, UK. She researches and teaches modern British history, with particular interests in gender history, prostitution and policy, and feminism. She recently published Save the Womanhood: Vice, Urban Immorality and Social Control in Liverpool, c.1900–1976 (2018).

Table of contents (12 chapters)

Table of contents (12 chapters)

Buy this book

eBook £67.99
price for United Kingdom (gross)
  • ISBN 978-1-137-44022-8
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF, EPUB
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover £85.00
price for United Kingdom (gross)

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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Wolfenden's Women
Book Subtitle
Prostitution in Post-war Britain
Authors
Series Title
Genders and Sexualities in History
Copyright
2020
Publisher
Palgrave Macmillan UK
Copyright Holder
The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s)
eBook ISBN
978-1-137-44022-8
DOI
10.1057/978-1-137-44022-8
Hardcover ISBN
978-1-137-44020-4
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
XII, 305
Topics