The Romance of Lust, or Early Experiences is a Victorian erotic novel written anonymously in four volumes during the years 1873–1876 and published by William Lazenby. Henry Spencer Ashbee discusses this novel in one of his bibliographies of erotic literature. In addition the compilers of British Museum General Catalogue of Printed Books list this book.
The novel is told in first person, and the protagonist of the novel is Charlie Roberts. Charlie possesses a large penis, much virility, and a seemingly insatiable sexual appetite. The novel begins with "There were three of us—Mary, Eliza, and myself." Charlie describes his sexual initiation as an adolescent—as he is "approaching fifteen". He catalogs his sexual experiences including incest with his sisters Eliza and Mary, sex with his governesses, and his later sexual exploits with various male and female friends, and acquaintances. Besides incest, the book deals with a variety of sexual activities, including orgies, masturbation, lesbianism, flagellation, fellatio, cunnilingus, gay sex, anal sex, and double penetration. Taboo subjects such as homosexuality, incest, and pedophilia are common themes in the novel.
Questions of authorship exist for this novel, and there are two likely candidates, William Simpson Potter, and Edward Sellon. Sellon is the author of other erotic novels and a book on snake worship, whereas Potter wrote and had privately printed two books of letters on the Prince of Wales' visit to India in 1875–1876. From examining the text in Letters from India during H. R. H. the Prince of Wales visit in 1875–6, from William S. Potter to his sister, one could make a stronger case for Potter, as there are similarities in writing style between the book of letters and The Romance of Lust. Ashbee asserts that Potter acted as editor to contributions by a number of aficionados.
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