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  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: June 2012

1 - Introduction

Summary

Going back to your marriage, when you had sex, who made the first move?

Elma (laughs) I'm not telling. (laughs) No, I think we were both of the same mind. No, I don't think – I don't think there was anything like that. If, if he wanted something he'd tell me, in a nice kind of a way.

How did you know that he was feeling amorous?

(laughs) I didn't; I just had to guess.

What were the signs?

Pardon?

What were the signs?

Well, the usual, two arms round me instead of one. (laughs)

Oral history and private lives

This book addresses sexuality and intimacy, especially within the context of marriage, among ordinary people in England during the mid-twentieth century, approximately 1918–63. It presents evidence from an oral history study which solicited first-hand accounts from eighty-nine men and women, drawn from both the middle and the working classes, whose adolescence, marriage and childrearing occurred during the interwar and immediately post-war decades. In adopting oral history as the prime research tool for this book we hope to provide a sophisticated and empirically based portrait of sexuality and intimacy within marriages during the interwar and early post-war decades of the twentieth century. The interviewees were asked how they had learned about sex in childhood and youth, how they had approached sex in adolescence and courtship, what sex had meant to them as adults and what part it played in their marriage relationships, particularly during their childbearing years when the issues of birth control and family planning would have had to be addressed.

Related content

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Weeks, Jeffrey, Sex, Politics, and Society: The Regulation of Sexuality since 1800 (London and New York: Longman, 1989)