Rahul Sharma

The Pearl (magazine)

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The Pearl, A Magazine of Facetiae and Voluptuous Reading was a pornographic monthly magazine issued for 18 months in London by William Lazenby from July 1879 to December 1880, with two Christmas supplements; it was closed down by the authorities for publishing obscene literature. Lazenby followed it with The Oyster (1883) and The Boudoir.


The magazine was sold under the counter and has been described retrospectively as the first underground-bestseller. Parts of the magazine have been compiled and translated into German.

The general format of the magazine was to publish three serial erotic tales simultaneously, devoted to sex in high society, incest and flagellation, respectively, interspersed with obscene parodies, poems and limericks. The publisher William Lazenby also wrote some of the contents. Some of the poems are thought to have been written by Algernon Charles Swinburne. The format of the magazine can be seen as a parody of contemporary magazines aimed at the family market.

The Pearl contains "My Grandmother's Tale", the first pornographic story based on slavery in the American South.

In Australia in 2011 a man was convicted for possession of The Pearl due to the presence of "child exploitation material". However, the conviction was set aside on appeal.

Rhymes, songs and parodies

The Pearl published limericks under the label 'Nursery Rhymes'. The heading is facetious, as their content would certainly not be appropriate for the nursery. The following example was included in The Pearl, Issue NÂș 1, July 1879.

There was a young man from Peru, Who had nothing whatever to do; And sent the result to the zoo.

Cultural Legacy

A selection from the story "Lady Pokingham, or They All Do It" is read during a scene in The Master (2012).

The Pearl's characters and venues, being Victoriana, are featured in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by Alan Moore. In Volume I, Issue 2 (Ghosts & Miracles), a girls' school seems to be haunted by a ghost (The "Holy Spirit") that is raping and impregnating the students. The headmistress is Rosa Coote, a character from one of The Pearl's serials. The "Holy Spirit" turns out to be Hawley Griffin, the Invisible Man.


The Pearl (magazine) Wikipedia

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