Wolfenden's Women: Prostitution in Post-War Britain

TitleWolfenden's Women: Prostitution in Post-War Britain
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsCaslin, Samantha, and Julia Laite
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan

This critical sourcebook compiles excerpts from the extensive interviews undertaken by the Wolfenden Committee on the subject of prostitution. The Committee is remembered, first and foremost, for recommending the decriminalization of sex between men. However, the other half of its remit--prostitution--has largely been forgotten, despite the fact that prostitution, not homosexuality, was the original impetus behind the Committee's appointment. If we consider the Committee and its Report from this perspective, its status as both a liberal and permissive endeavour must be called into question. This book captures the controversy, diversity and complexity of opinions surrounding prostitution in this period, and provides critical analysis and context. It restores the question of prostitution to its central place in the history of Britain's so-called progressive era and challenges the way that the Report and its legacy have been characterized. Crucially, this book highlights the substantial evidence gathered by the Committee on prostitution outside of London, which the Wolfenden Report itself largely disregarded. The excerpts, the reprinted report, and the critical introductions to each chapter are intended to spark important debates amongst students, researchers and the public about the history of sexuality, society and the state in twentieth-century Britain.

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