The Pearl (magazine)  

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"Having decided to bring out a Journal, the Editor racks his brains for a suitable name with which to christen his periodical. Friends are generally useless in an emergency of this kind; they suggest all kinds of impossible names; the following were some of the titles proposed in this instance: "Facts and Fancies," "The Cremorne," "The All Round," "The Monthly Courses," "The Devil's Own," and "Dugdale's Ghost"; the two first had certainly great attractions to our mind, but at last our own ideas have hit upon the modest little "Pearl," as more suitable, especially in the hope that when it comes under the snouts of the moral and hypocritical swine of the world, they may not trample it underfoot, and feel disposed to rend the publisher, but that a few will become subscribers on the quiet. To such better disposed piggywiggys, I would say, for encouragement, that they have only to keep up appearances by regularly attending church, giving to charities, and always appearing deeply interested in moral philanthropy, to ensure a respectable and highly moral character, and that if they only are clever enough never to be found out, they may, sub rosa, study and enjoy the philosophy of life till the end of their days, and earn a glorious and saintly epitaph on their tombstone, when at last the Devil pegs them out." [1]

Related e



Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

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

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