Doctor of Love: James Graham and His Celestial Bed

Lydia Syson

Doctor of Love: James Graham and His Celestial Bed

Widely accepted as the world s first sex therapist, Dr Graham set out to bring the sublime into the sex life of every married couple. He guaranteed both ecstasy and fertility to the users of his infamous Celestial Bed, a contraption which harnessed all the most exciting developments of the Enlightenment. Electricity, magnetism, mind-altering gases and music all played a part in this astonishing invention, luxuriously designed to impart exquisite pleasure and produce perfect babies. Graham's medical career took him from his native Edinburgh to America and back again, and he crossed paths with many of the most famous individuals of his day. The doctor's well-publicized efforts to overturn medical orthodoxy provoked both admiration and ridicule. He was crowned the King of Quacks . Doctor of Love the first comprehensive biography of James Graham is a fully rounded portrait of a remarkable eighteenth-century celebrity, revealing a complex character, at once startlingly progressive, extraordinarily arrogant and touchingly humane. He was the epitome of his era, yet utterly one of a kind. 3.8 out of 5 based on 4 reviews
Doctor of Love: James Graham and His Celestial Bed

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Biography, History, Sex & Sexuality
Format Hardback
Pages 394
RRP £20.00
Date of Publication September 2008
ISBN 978-1846880544
Publisher Alma Books
 

Widely accepted as the world s first sex therapist, Dr Graham set out to bring the sublime into the sex life of every married couple. He guaranteed both ecstasy and fertility to the users of his infamous Celestial Bed, a contraption which harnessed all the most exciting developments of the Enlightenment. Electricity, magnetism, mind-altering gases and music all played a part in this astonishing invention, luxuriously designed to impart exquisite pleasure and produce perfect babies. Graham's medical career took him from his native Edinburgh to America and back again, and he crossed paths with many of the most famous individuals of his day. The doctor's well-publicized efforts to overturn medical orthodoxy provoked both admiration and ridicule. He was crowned the King of Quacks . Doctor of Love the first comprehensive biography of James Graham is a fully rounded portrait of a remarkable eighteenth-century celebrity, revealing a complex character, at once startlingly progressive, extraordinarily arrogant and touchingly humane. He was the epitome of his era, yet utterly one of a kind.

Reviews

The Guardian

Miranda Seymour

A nudge-and-wink title, combined with a suggestive book jacket, suggests that Lydia Syson intends to focus on the charlatan element, offering a rehash of timeworn tales about young Emy Lyon (later Lady Hamilton) skipping around the doctor's celebrated "Temple of Health" clad only in a few scraps of muslin. Forget it. Syson's enthralling book offers a new portrait of Graham as an authentic innovator, a harbinger for Mary Wollstonecraft and Marie Stopes, a radical feminist male who praised women as men's equals, who pioneered the use of electricity in therapy, and who believed that marital sex — Graham was no advocate of unblessed couplings — should be (it was his favourite word) "sublime".

08/11/2008

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The Times

Iain Finlayson

Syson pins the iconoclastic Graham like a butterfly on the wider canvas of a lively social history.

22/11/2008

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The Daily Telegraph

Ann Sebba

Lydia Syson makes bold claims for the man, describing him as a misunderstood genius. He was a genuine eccentric who loved sex, fame and fortune and hoped he could combine all three. In the end, it's hard to know what to make of him. I would have loved more about his private life. What did Mrs G think of the bed and did they ever have a romp on it together?

11/10/2008

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The Sunday Telegraph

Vic Gatrell

Graham's career has cried out for a biography and this is a useful and conscientious one, but with closer editing it could have been better. It needed a lighter expository touch, and more humour altogether. Give Syson the least cue and she chases it remorselessly. Pages are given over to Emma Hamilton, for example, on the grounds that, scantily dressed as a Goddess of Health, she assisted Graham in his Temple. But Syson doesn't mention that this was and is a myth, and she provides no evidence to prove otherwise. It's also strange that by the end of the book, I had little understanding of how Graham's electrical devices actually worked.

15/04/2009

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