Smutty Books

Hot Book Seeks Willing Audience

Looking for love? You’re not alone. People have placed ads looking for lovers since the 17th century. Classified: The Secret History of the Personal Column by the wonderfully-named HG Cocks is a history of sexual advertising, chronicling love ads from the advent of moveable type to the first blog. Gay men in the 20th century placed ads in code—calling themselves fans of Oscar Wilde and Walt Whitman—and women described themselves as “jolly” and “sporty.” But this personal history becomes a bit too personal for one reviewer, Roland White, of London’s Sunday Times. “Even the Sunday Times has played its small part,” he writes. “In 1922, a ‘lady of good disposition’ advertised for ‘others interested in tight lacing.’ She was seeking fellow fetishists, not needleworkers.”