The Marquis de Sade wrote this extraordinary text whilst imprisoned in the Bastille in 1785. It tells the story of four well-heeled libertines who lock themselves and their sexual victims up in a remote medieval castle, having resolved to explore the moral and physical parameters of sexual gratification. Among their victims (a number of whom are children) are four prostitutes, who are called upon to relate the details of their most perverted clients. The action of these stories is closely imitated by the four aristocrats, and includes details of torture, rape and paedophilia.
The novel was not finished, and, somewhat unsurprisingly, possesses a long history of controversy. If such be your taste or curiosity, you can read some of de Sade’s work here. The film Quills (2000) stars Geoffrey Rush as de Sade and explores in colourful if disturbing detail his last years in an asylum for the insane.
Alfred Kinsey (1894-1956) was a hugely influential sexologist, whose investigations during the 1940s and 1950s did much to broaden our understanding, and foster tolerance, of the human range of sexual tastes and experiences. It is argued that he played a great part in the sexual revolution of the 1960s. Widely regarded as the father of sexology, he founded what is now called The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction. He published Sexual Behaviour in the Human Male in 1948 and Sexual Behaviour in the Human Female in 1953. Both became bestsellers.
Antonio Vivaldi (1678–1741) was a Venetian Baroque composer whose most famous work is The Four Seasons.
Robert Kett (1492-1549), a wealthy landowner in Wymondham, Norfolk, led a rebellion against the enclosure of land which had been previously available to all. The rebels ripped up fences throughout the area before attacking and taking the town of Norwich.
The rebellion was put down by a 14,000-strong army sent by King Edward VI. Kett and his brother were tortured and hanged. They were both kept alive in their chains for several excruciating days as an example to their followers.
William Bligh was captain of the ill-fated HMS Bounty. She had been commissioned to convey breadfruit plants from Tahiti to the West Indies, where it was hoped they might provide a cheap food source for slaves.
After departing Tahiti, master's mate Fletcher Christian led a mutiny and took command of the ship, leaving Bligh and 18 loyal crew adrift in a launch.
The breadfruit plants can be seen in the picture.