The Georgians feel closer to us now than the Victorians

‘The two most fascinating subjects in the universe are sex and the 18th century,’ declared the novelist Brigid Brophy when the ban on Fanny Hill was lifted in 1963. Penelope Corfield’s big, handsome, enjoyable book goes a good way to illustrating Brophy’s assertion. Part source book, part interpretive history of the long 18th century (1688-1837), it is also a guide and gazetteer to the continuing presence of Georgian England in our towns and minds. The world before 1688 is largely unfamiliar to us. The 18th century, however, with its lovable rogues, its introduction of constitutional monarchy, its rights of man and its sexual libertines, is akin to ours. Despite recent