“Has anybody but myself faithfully made such a record?…whatever society may say, it is but a narrative of human life…perhaps the everyday life of thousands…if the confession could be had.” Walter, author of My Secret Life
Ten years in the making, composer & narrator Dominic Crawford Collins takes you back in time in an immersive audiofilm of the anonymously written 19th century erotic memoirs of an English gentleman.
My Secret Life
What do we actually know about women’s sexual behaviour in the 19th century? What degree of sexual experience or experimentation did most women have? Female sexuality is one of the most invisible subjects in women’s history.
The underground erotic fiction of the time offered a male perspective of the female mind, female diarists were not in the habit of divulging their innermost erotic thoughts or exposing their sexual exploits. The resources at our disposal for exploring the reality of this fascinating subject are practically non-existent.
And yet there is one source, which remains relatively obscure to this day, from which we can learn more about women’s sexual behaviour during the Victorian era than any other. A book called My Secret Life; an anonymously penned memoir written during a period from the 1840s to the 1880s by a wealthy and sex obsessed English gentleman who refers to himself simply as ‘Walter’. Part confessional, part investigative erotic journalism, it meticulously documents every detail of the author’s prolific sexual encounters, offering us in the process an eye and thigh opening account of life behind closed doors in the Victorian age.
Women, in both mind and body, were the all consuming object of Walter’s interest. From early youth through to old age his quest for erotic discovery and adventure with them was never diminished.
Unlike contemporary 19th century erotic texts, such as The Pearl, whose sole object was to titillate, Walter’s interest in his subjects did not end with the extinguishing of the carnal flame. His hunger to understand the circumstances and minds of the women he encountered is never upstaged by the sex. Their potted life histories, their most intimate desires and acts were shared with him and in turn meticulously recorded by him, written down verbatim while still fresh in his mind.
The resulting poignant record of a lost era and the intimate moments of the women who inhabited it offer us a remarkable insight into the 19th century that cannot be gained from any other source.
Banned from publication for its extreme and explicit content for nearly a century, My Secret Life is now being released as an audiofilm, (a fully scored immersive audiobook), with narration and music by film composer Dominic Crawford Collins.
A LOOK AT THE BOOK
A candid memoir recounting the author’s erotic experiences from childhood onwards, My Secret Life not only offers us a fascinating insight into the mind of someone whose entire life revolved around an epicentre of sexual obsession, but a unique historic window through which we can observe our own psychology and behaviour.
Described as ‘one of the strangest books ever written’, My Secret Life is evocative, provocative, graphic, and even by modern day standards, extraordinarily daring! Amidst its two thousands plus pages lie a treasure trove of real lives. Lives depicted from a very different perspective to Walter’s contemporaries such as Charles Dickens and Henry Mayhew; lives illuminated by the oblique light of the author’s prurient eye.
“a haunting original music score for each episode sets the mood for a truly immersive erotic audio time travel experience”
Refreshingly contemporary in its literary style, My Secret Life still retains the power to shock to this day. No other writer has succeeded in presenting the clandestine lives of the women of the Victorian age to the extent that Walter did. Open the pages of My Secret Life and the hidden, forbidden voices of the 19th century spring to life.
Walter was alone in giving voice to taboo subjects that other writers and diarists eschewed, for him there was nothing that was out of bounds. Whatever he did he described openly and without any degree of self consciousness. His philosophy was that human nature, and in particular his own, however perverse or out of line with the prevailing social norms, should never give rise to embarrassment. Occasional homosexual escapades are described with the same uncompromising frankness and attention to graphic detail as are other salacious episodes that would shame into silence all but the most courageous of individuals.
Though Walter was relentlessly motivated by the desire to have sex, he was also interested in the lives and circumstances of all the women he came across; and it is his exploration of their hearts and minds, as well as their bodies, that makes My Secret Life so uniquely interesting and enduring a piece of literature.
His ‘ear’ and ‘eye’ for detail conspire to paint a vivid picture of a lost century, of a time and a place and its people, without parallel. In documenting his experiences Walter has engendered his subjects, who would otherwise have disappeared without trace into the ether of time, with immortality.
‘as the composer and narrator of this audiofilm (an audio book scored in the manner of a film), of the complete unabridged text, my aim is always to enhance the emotion and drama that is present in each chapter and to establish a mood and atmosphere in which the listener can begin to envelop themselves in the eros of the past ‘.
Dominic Crawford Collins
‘the production on the audio book – both the reading and the music – is truly excellent.’
‘I’d just like to thank you for your amazing audio book, absolutely fantastic, that voice with the music is sinfully erotic’