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The British Experience
Author: Ronald Hyam

This book tries to show how sexual attitudes and activities influenced the lives of the imperial elite as well as the subjects of empire. It begins with an examination of the nature of sexuality and of its influence on individuals. The book argues that sexual dynamics crucially underpinned the whole operation of British empire and Victorian expansion. Sexual needs can be imperative, and people will go to extraordinary lengths to satisfy them. The book considers the behaviour of members of the imperial ruling elite, and examines their attitude to marriage and the relationship between their private lives and service of the empire. It looks at sexual opportunity in some different types of imperial situation, both formal and informal, in an attempt to see how sexual interaction underpinned the operative structures of British expansion. As the keeping of mistresses was not uncommon in eighteenth-century Britain, the keeping of a mistress in British India became a well-established practice. Europeans in India could flirt outrageously, but they must not fall in love or marry. To keep the women free from disease, Indian prostitutes were admitted to the cantonments, to the lal bazar after medical examination and registration, where they were given periodical checks. Official reaction against sexual opportunism began in earnest with the Purity Campaign launched in 1869, which changed the visible face of British life and attitudes. Undoubtedly there was thereafter more decorum, more chastity, less opportunity and less fun.

Ronald Hyam

reported in 1932 that ‘a certain amount of homosexual prostitution of young Indian boys’ existed in Karachi, many of them said to have venereal disease. 33 Official reaction against sexual opportunism began in earnest with the Purity Campaign launched in 1869 by Josephine Butler, which was perhaps bound to be exported overseas. We have already noted the struggles in the 1880s

in Empire and sexuality
Abstract only
The Faerie Queene III–IV
Victoria Coldham-Fussell

course, more than hints at a clash between heroism and romance. His knights generally want something from the damsels they rescue and are unafraid to show it. And when it constitutes more than sexual opportunism, love is revealed to be a chaotic, destabilising force, notable for inciting violence rather than valour. The eponymous hero Orlando is driven mad by love, whereupon (instead of taking to his bed like Troilus) he goes on the warpath in a state of psychosis. In singing of ‘Fierce warres and faithfull loues’ (Proem I, 1.9), Spenser has traditionally been

in Comic Spenser
Victoria Best and Martin Crowley

his hotel’s reputation, but Pauline offers herself to him and he succumbs to sexual opportunism. The situation descends into sickening violence which, similarly to the experience of sexuality, works compulsively on the protagonists, ensnaring them in a net of intense emotions that neither resolves nor progresses the narrative. Instead sex and violence are depicted bluntly, without any attempt being made to render them

in The new pornographies