My Secret Life by Walter

“Banned for nearly 100 Years”

Complete eleven volumes uncensored • Over 1-million words


"...a parade of genitalia, pornographic writing of the most explicit and lascivious kind .. unusual as a surviving piece of hardcore Victorian pornographic writing" -- review by Maya Mirsky.


Now available to buy as an eleven-volume-in-one, 700+ pages,
unexpurgated and uncensored, printed book or downloadable PDF file

Walter, real name Henry Spencer Ashbee
Walter, real name
Henry Spencer Ashbee?

My Secret Life was first published between 1888-1894 in 11 volumes in Amsterdam by the Belgian-born bookseller/publisher Auguste Brancart (1851 - 1894). For the next hundred years, it remained banned and considered obscene and pornographic.

Sexologist Vern L. Bullough (1928 – 2006) described the book as "one of the most valuable sources of information on sexual attitudes and practices in the last part of the nineteenth century in the English speaking world", with over 4,000 pages in the original edition.

The British Library has a set that it believes was published in about 1880, but "The imprint is probably false; printed in Belgium?".

No-one really knows the true identity of "Walter". But biographer Ian Gibson claims it is the pen name of one Henry Spencer Ashbee (1834 – 1900), pictured left, who went by the pseudonym "Pisanus Fraxi", a lewd pun derived from praxinus=ash and apis=bee.

Bullough suggest that one Charles Stanley (1809 - 1897), a barrister and stockbroker is the best alternative, based on a court case mentioned in the text, which Bullough's colleague Gordon Stein believed was the trail of Regina v. Richard Clarke (Nov 11, 1854). Other candidates include writer Captain Edward Sellon (1818 – 1866), journalist George Augustus Henry Sala (1828 – 1895), and poet, Richard Monckton Milnes (1809 - 1885).

Only 20-25 sets of My Secret Life were originally printed, and sold at £60 per set, an enormous sum for the times, equivalent to over £4000 ($6000) at today's prices.




Famous People who owned My Secret Life
  • Aleister Crowley (1875–1947)
    English occult writer and 'magician'
  • Harold Lloyd (1893–1971)
    American silent film comedian and producer
  • Josef von Sternberg (1894–1969)
    Austrian film director and Svengali to Marlene Dietrich
  • George Mountbatten, 2nd Marquess of Milford Haven
    great-grandson of Queen Victoria, brother of 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma
  Harold Llloyd
Harold Lloyd


Pendulum Press facsimile of 1888 My Secret Life
Pendulum Press facsimile of 1888 My Secret Life

Wordsworth Edition of My Secret Life
Wordsworth Edition of My Secret Life

Key Dates in History
1834 Henry Spencer Ashbee born 21 Apr 1834 in Southwark, London to Robert and Frances Elizabeth Spencer
1859 Walter mentions the Battle of Solferino at the start of Chapter 7. Henry would be 25 years old.
1862 Henry Ashbee marries Elizabeth Jenny Lavi in Hamburg, Germany
1863 Henry and Elizabeth Ashbee's son, Charles Robert Ashbee, born 17 May 1863 in Isleworth, London
1888 My Secret Life first published
1900 Henry Spencer Ashbee dies on 29 Jul in Hawkhurst, Kent
1932 New York publisher issue 3 volumes of My Secret Life before being arrested
1964 In his book The Other Victorians (New York, 1964), Steven Marcus makes a case that Ashbee was not the author.
1966 New York publisher Grove Press successfully publishes My Secret Life, 78 years after original publication in two books. The introduction by Gershon Legman suggest that Ashbee is the author.
1967 Pendulum Press of Atlanta Georgia publishes a facsimile of all 11 volumes of the 1888 edition of My Secret Life
1967 Drs. Eberhard and Phyllis Kronhausen write Walter. The English Casanova. A presentation of his unique memoirs. 'My secret life' (London, Polybooks)
1969 UK Bradford printer Arthur Dobson sentenced to two years as a "professional purveyor of filth"
1995 UK publisher successfully issues "Wordsworth Editions" (not in print), 107 years after original publication
2000 UK's Channel 4 broadcasts "Walter: The secret life of a Victorian pornographer" (10.30pm, Tuesday, 9 May 2000)
2001 The Erotomaniac: The Secret Life of Henry Spencer Ashbee by Ian Gibson published by Faber and Faber; ISBN: 0571196195
2003 An extract of My Secret Life appears on the Web.
2004 The full eleven volumes of My Secret Life appears on the Web for the first time in 116 years. It is fully searchable too.



Subject examples


Word Statistics


Word Occurences
Cunt 5357
Fuck 4032
Prick 3756
Frig 1299
Hair 1569
Bum 937
Sperm 718
Cock 741
Arse 526
Clitoris 434
Gay 398
Quim 389
Buttocks 369
Spunk 362
Virgin 360
Breast 316
Lick 304
Piss 305
Gamahuche 227
Erotic 187
Bugger 106
Vagina 68


My Secret Life: Facts and Figures

11 Volumes. 184 Chapters. Over 1,166,670 words total.


To masturbate
To practise fellatio or cunnilingus, hence gamahucher.
Frisky, frolicsome movements
A brothel.
Mound. Pubic area. Mons pubis.
The labia minora (inner lips) of the vulva.
Pertaining to love, or unlawful sexual indulgence,
or belonging to the class of prostitutes
The external genital organs of a woman.
The external female genitals; the vagina.
Seminal fluid


Further Reading



Banned books online