An English lecturer who has spent the last five years researching the history of sex has donated £5,000 from pre-sales of her first published book to Basis Yorkshire, a charity which supports vulnerable people in Leeds.


Dr Kate Lister, lecturer in English at Leeds Trinity University, published ‘A Curious History of Sex’ in February 2020. It is based on her own research into the history of sex and explores a broad range of subjects including safe-sex, mythical historical figures, etymology of words related to sex, female genital mutilation and the biology of sex. 

The book was inspired by Dr Lister’s research project Whores of Yore, which she set up in 2015 to encourage conversation on the history of sexuality, the plight of modern sex workers and wider social issues. The Whores of Yore Twitter account has over 400,000 followers, with online reaction inspiring the topics featured in ‘A Curious History of Sex’

The Whores of Yore project provides academics, activists, sex workers and archivists with a platform to share their experiences, research and stories around sexuality and sexuality studies. 

Dr Lister has donated proceeds from the book to Basis Sex Work Project, which forms part of Basis – a charity which supports female sex workers and young people experiencing sexual exploitation in Leeds. 

She said: “I’ve always believed history is not passive. It is not dusty books and statues; it is our cultural record and helps us to understand where we are today. I research the history of sex work, but Basis support sex workers today. It felt so important to be able to give back to a marginalised group who inspired my research and donate the pre-sale profits to Basis, rather than keep them for myself. It was a real privilege to be able to make the donation to Basis, especially right now given how badly the coronavirus has impacted many of the women they support.” 

Due to social distancing guidelines, women's ability to earn is severely impacted, meaning the charity has increased their practical support with food parcels, toiletries, clothes and phones and data to access support. Dr Lister’s donation will be used to help women who are unable to work or meet their basic needs. 

Gemma Scire, CEO at Basis Yorkshire, said: “We are grateful to Dr Kate Lister for writing the book and everyone else who made this happen - including everyone who bought the book. The donation is gratefully received and particularly welcome at this time for our work with women who are particularly affected by COVID-19.” 

A Curious History of Sex’ has been published by Unbound, using a crowdfunding model which received more than 1,700 pledges. ‘A Curious History of Sex’ can be purchased online for £24.99.

Categories: English and Creative Writing

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