Adultery and “Afternoon Delight”

Do you know where the word comes from?  Among the upper classes in Edwardian England, adultery was rife.  “Along with hunting, shooting, fishing, and charitable works, adultery was one of the ways in which those who did not have to work for a living could fill their afternoons.  The term “adultery” is chosen carefully, for it applies only to women who were married.  And it was married, rather than unmarried, women who were likely to pass the couple of hours between five and seven (know as a cinq a sept) in the pattern set by Queen Victoria’s pleasure-loving son, King Edward VIII, and his coterie of friends…. The choice of this hour of the day was purely practical.  It took some considerable time for a lady to unbutton and unlace her layers of corsets, chemises, and underskirts, let alone button and lace them up again.  Lovers therefore visited just after tea, when ladies were undressing in order to exchange their afternoon clothes for their evening ones…Married women were safter.  First, they were not going to trap a man into marriage.  Second, if they became pregnant, the child could be incorporated within their existing family.  For this reason a married woman was expected to wait until she had produced two sons for her husband (“and heir and a spare”) before risking introducing somebody else’s gene pool among those who might inherit his property – thus “adulterating” the bloodline.”

From “The Bolter” by Frances Osborne – the story of Idina Sackville, chief seductress of Kenya’s scandalous “Happy Valley” set

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3 Responses to Adultery and “Afternoon Delight”

  1. Karen Lynch-Schirra says:

    With all the clothes that the women had to wear, being buttressed in their regalia, I’m impressed that she’d even have the strength to “continue.” Maybe this era was the genesis of the “missionary position.” I’m sure, OysterDiva, that you might put this on your list of ideas about which to write.

    • I will investigate. If your premise is indeed correct, then it is interesting to note that the “missionary” position seriously lagged behind the “doggy-style” position. (Referencing the movie “Quest for Fire” (1982)). Of course, women most likely chose the missionary position because they were bored with their lovers and felt like taking a short nap prior to the evening meal.

  2. Mary Pontius says:


    This is what you need, a place to put your “interesting” observasions and thoughts for the world to read!!!! Write and they will follow!


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