My Secret Life by “Walter” book
My Secret Life by “Walter” is an anonymous book, concerning the sexual experiences that the author undergoes in Victorian society. The book is an enormous work initially published in eleven volumes and four thousand pages.
Perhaps one of the most infamous texts to be published in the Victorian era, My Secret Life is still valued for its explicit discussions of sexual matters and other subjects considered obscene for public discussion.
It has therefore gained importance as a social document. For many years it has remained the only source of information on the prostitute quarters of London, where the author had spent many hours.
My Secret Life – book Summary
My Secret Life chronicles the story of an adventurous Victorian man, known simply as Walter, narrating his numerous sexual encounters. Sometimes with nursemaids and prostitutes, other times with actresses and even other men’s wives, Walter records everything sexual possible.
From his experience, Walter learns a valuable lesson: One can never know too much regarding human nature. In an age, notorious for its policies of repression and strict in maintaining the appearance of propriety, the book reveals everything concealed and considered forbidden.
It is therefore a landmark text that throws light upon the sexual dynamics of a society deeply conservative and divided between rich and poor. It was a society that operated in binary terms: men and women, chaste and sexual etc.
It is a document created for over forty years, hence, making an interesting psychological document as well.
Who is the author of My Secret Life?
The author of My Secret Life or the identity of Walter has been unknown, although, some critics have assumed Henry Spencer Ashbee to be the one. Ashbee was a collector of pornography and had always been assumed to be the figure behind the Victorian pornographic epic.
A Victorian writer and bibliographer, Ashbee is most probably the compiler of the book’s index and the one who got it printed.