The Pearl (magazine)  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

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 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 Nº 1, July 1879.

There was a young man from Peru,
Who had nothing whatever to do;
So he took out his carrot
And he buggered his parrot,
And sent the result to the zoo.


The Pearl 's characters and venues, being Victoriana, are featured in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by Alan Moore.

Ashbee's description:

"The object of the writers of the above tales—for they are certainly not all by one hand—would seem to be to cluster together the greatest amount of filth possible, unrelieved by a sparkle of wit. Scenes follow fast upon each other as cruel and as crapulous as any to be found in Justine or La Philosophie dans le Boudoir, and, it must be owned, far more pernicious, for the enormities in those works are generally enacted in unfrequented forests, in imaginary châteaux, in unknown convents, or in impossible caverns, whereas in the tales before us they are brought close home to us, and occur in Belgravian drawing-rooms, the chambers of our Inns of Court or in the back parlours of London shop-keepers."

Other appearances

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "The Pearl (magazine)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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