Spanking novel

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Illustration by Édouard-Henri Avril from the erotic novel Fanny Hill (1749).
18th-century illustration by an unknown artist that may have been intended for Fanny Hill.
Cover of Le Dressage de la Maid-Esclave (1930) by Bernard Valonnes (aka Don Brennus Aléra).

A spanking novel is longer work of spanking-related literature. A spanking novel can take the form of a novel-length spanking story, but most commonly it is a series of spanking stories, each of which comprises a chapter of the novel — a format also known as a spanking series.

Note that not every novel which features some mention of spanking can be called a spanking novel. In a spanking novel, spanking is an essential and recurring theme throughout the work. Many spanking novels are actually of a length which would classify them as novellas if they were published commercially.

See the Victorian era and Edwardian era for lists of 19th and 20th Century flagellation novels and novellas, as well as early 20th century French spanking literature.


18th-century illustration, most likely for Fanny Hill (1740).

During the 18th century, the first corporal punishment fiction (commonly called flagellation erotica) began to appear in France. The Marquis de Sade (1740-1814) remains the most famous, and most notorious, writer of this era. There were also a number of pornographic works that included one or more scenes of sexual flagellation such as the British novel Fanny Hill (1740) by John Cleland. These were all clandestine publications sold under a cloak of secrecy by off-market vendors.

Some authors wrote comedic parodies of, and borrowed plots from, popular novels of the day. For example, de Sade's Justine is believed to be a response to Pamela or Virtue Rewarded (1740) by Samuel Richardson. Other novels take a satirical, even subversive, approach and openly mock the moral hypocrisy of society, the government, the Church, and various institutions. This practice would continue into the next century.

The 19th century

Birching illustration from The Convent School by Rosa Coote (1876).

By the late 19th century the demand for erotic stories centered around whipping, birching, and other fetishes had gained momentum. Hundreds of novels by anonymous authors were secretly published, primarily in Paris. The main publishers in France include Jean Fort, Paul Brenet, Select Bibliothèque, Édition Parisienne, The Olympia Press, Charles Carrington (aka The Society of British Bibliophiles), and many smaller imprints.

In Scotland, there was author and publisher James Glass Bertram (1824-1892), and London publishers William Dugdale (1800-1868), John Camden Hotten (1832-1873), William Lazenby (died c. 1888), George Cannon, Ward & Downey, and Golden Birch House.

Limited editions of richly illustrated volumes were printed and sold, usually through private subscription, to an exclusive, well-to-do clientele. These novels could not be displayed in book stores so they were rarely available to the general public.

As a result, the stories were written to appeal to the educated ranks of the upper middle class. The typical protagonist is an elegant gentleman who flogs and fornicates his way through a bevy of servant girls, prostitutes, and other working-class women. There were also countless tales of the misadventures of aristocratic young ladies and orphaned waifs trapped in some diabolical place – a reform school, prison, convent, or Arabian harem – where sexual abuse and cruel punishments are commonplace.

1900 to 1940

Illustration for the German story Nell in Bridewell by Wilhelm Reinhard (1900).

Early 20th century French spanking literature, with contributions from other countries as well, is considered the first "golden age" of spanking fiction. It began in the early 1900s and grew significantly over the following decades. Less expensive editions with larger print runs gradually spread to a wider audience. Sadly, this era came to an abrupt end at the outbreak of World War II – specifically, the German occupation of France from 1940 to 1944.

By 1950, the French book market had rebounded, but the after-effects of the war also affected the kink-tolerant spirit that had once flourished in Paris.

Note: Our sister wiki Biblio Curiosa, maintained by Thanalie, is a very good resource on these works. Some selected examples (whose copyright has expired so they are now in the public domain) are even available online in full length as for-pay e-books at Eros-Thanatos. See also: Edwardian era

Pulp fiction in the 1960s and 1970s

Illustration by fetish artist Eric Stanton.

It was not until the mid-1960s, with the advent of cheap, mass-produced paperbacks (along with changes in censorship laws), that reprints of older French and British novels and contemporary stories in this genre became widely available.

In 1963 London publisher Mayflower issued a paperback edition of Fanny Hill that resulted in an obscenity trial. Mayflower lost (the prosecution stressed one atypical scene involving flagellation), but the court case highlighted the growing disconnect between the outmoded obscenity laws and the social realities of the 1960s. An unexpurgated version of the novel was finally published in Britain in 1970. In 1963 Putnam published the book in the United States under the title John Cleland's Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure. This edition was also immediately banned for obscenity, but the publisher challenged the ban in court. In a landmark 1964 decision by the New York State court of appeal, the book was found not to be obscene.

In the United States, titles such as The Master Spanker (1966) by Edward Landon (Unique Books), Venus In Bondage (1969) by Lurene Jones (N. P. Inc.), and Margo Lee: Diary of a Teenage Sado-Masochist (1969) by Red Young (Classic Publications: Los Angeles) are representative examples of the hundreds of spanking and S&M pulp novels produced in the 1960s by Corinth Publications, Taurus Press, Black Cat Books, Gargoyle Press, Eros Publishing Co., et al.

Well-known fetish artists such as Eric Stanton and Gene Bilbrew worked for Satellite Publishing (based in Jersey City, New Jersey), and its other imprints: First Niter, Wee Hours, and After Hours. Publishing houses were still subject to legal harassment which led to the creation of many shell companies of unknown ownership. Some of these are Torturra Press Ltd, Diana Press, Satan Press, Captivity Books, Chevron, and Wizard.

Many vintage French novels from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were also translated into English and reprinted as well, sometimes under new titles. For example, in the '70s Janus (magazine) Publications in London reprinted the work of René-Michel Desergy and other French writers from the 1930s, making them widely available for the first time.

1980s to the present

Le Dressage de la Maid-Esclave (1930) illustrated by Bernard Valonnes (aka Don Brennus Aléra).

By the '80s clandestine underground publishers began to fade away as fetish literature in general gradually made its way into mainstream culture. An increasing number of banned books that had been illegal to send through the mail just a few years earlier were beginning to turn up on the shelves of large chain bookstores.

Blue Moon Books in New York became a major provider of new novels by authors such as Richard Manton and Don Winslow. The company also reprinted Story of O (1954) and dozens of classic Victorian and Edwardian era novels such as A Man with a Maid, "Frank" and I, and Birch in the Boudoir (retitled as Beauty in the Birch).

Eve Howard, co-founder of the spanking video company Shadow Lane, published her own collection of spanking stories (also called Shadow Lane) through Blue Moon. (Former spanking actress Niki Flynn also writes fetish fiction under the pen name Fiona Locke.) At the same time other video producers started self-publishing their own spin-off books, booklets, and magazines based on their videos.

But perhaps the most significant event was when popular horror writer Anne Rice (as A. N. Roquelaure) published her trilogy of spanking fantasy novels through E. P. Dutton/Plume. These books, The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty (1983), Beauty's Punishment (1984), and Beauty's Release (1985), became surprise best sellers. The trilogy established that spanking/BDSM stories were no longer back-alley productions sold under the counter at adult bookshops, but were now an accepted and legitimate part of the publishing industry.

Although there are exceptions – such as science fiction and fantasy – modern fetish fiction tends to fall into two main categories. There are contemporary stories set in the present day and highly imitative historical novels that recreate the style and content of Victorian and Edwardian era erotica. (In fact, there are many authors who do little more than rewrite the same vintage novels over and over with slight variations.) The main difference in today's writings is the absence of a subversive subtext with social satire, dark humor, and parody that existed in many of the books of the past.

Books on the Internet

Since the 1990s, the development of the Internet has made it easier for professional as well as amateur writers to self-publish their work online. And an increasing number of publishers and booksellers, both large and small, now provide electronic books (e-books) in digital form that can be read on computers or other electronic devices.


More can be found in the novels category.

French vintage spanking novels

In the early 20th century there was a boom of French spanking novels, mostly published by various publishing houses in Paris. Many of these were nicely illustrated in the drawing styles of the genre and time. Our sister wiki Biblio Curiosa, maintained by Thanalie, is a very good resource on these works. Some selected examples (whose copyright has expired so they are now in the public domain) are even available online in full length as for-pay e-books at Eros-Thanatos. See also: Edwardian era

See also

More information on this topic is available at [ Wikipedia:Sadism and masochism in fiction ]
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