Dear Penthouse: I Never Thought it Would Happen to Me, but I Found 300 Year Old Erotica in My Library

The Daily Mail reports that a secret hoard of “Chapbooks,” lewd pamphlets written during between 1700-1800, have been found in the library of Townend House in Lake District in the U.K.

From the article:

“A secret hoard of lewd pamphlets written to titillate the common man more than 300 years ago have been discovered in a manor house.

Known as Chapbooks the bodice-ripping yarns were found hidden in the library of Townend House at Troutbeck in the Lake District.

The pamphlets had been shoved behind a collection of straightforward books, presumably to hide them.

Chapbooks – the name derives from ‘chapmen’ the door-to-door peddlers who sold this type of literature – told racy tales of amorous advances, love and marriage.

The pamphlets were printed on cheap paper so thin that hardly any have survived the ravages of time.

Townend House was owned by a landowning farming family, the Brownes, whose literary collection has been passed to the National Trust.

Emma Wright, who is the Trust custodian at Townend said: ‘The Browne book collection goes back through the centuries and proves that rural people had a strong interest in literature.’

‘However, as we have gone slowly through the library we have found hidden away these Chapbooks.

‘They contain rather saucy even rude tales which were found to be rather amusing by their 18th century readers.’

One tale is called The Crafty Chambermaid’s Garland and details the story of a young woman who tricks a man into marrying her.

Written in 1770 it states: ‘The Merchant he softly crept into the room. And on the bedside he sat himself down. Her knees through the counterpane he did embrace. Did Bess in the pillow did hide her sweet face.

‘He stript (sic) of his clothes and leaped into bed saying now lovely creature for thy maidenhead. She strug led (sic) and strove and seemed to be shy. He said divine beauty I pray now comply.’

The National Trust has put some of the steamy pages with their illustrations onto digital photo frames with MP3 recordings also available for visitors.

Mrs Wright added: ‘The Chapbooks have really caught the imagination. The Brownes were obviously far from straight-laced.'”

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~ by K. Ritcheson on April 2, 2010.

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