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April 10, 2020 2 min read

The Naughty Nineties - An Adult Pop Up Book

By Ekaterina Mironova

A pop up book for adults? Yes please! The Naughty Nineties: A Saucy Pop Up Book for Adults Only is a charming little book which depicts a series of hand illustrated Victorian scenes ranging from bird watching to fine dining.

But what's behind the pop ups?

Victorian England was all about appearances; what you couldn't see didn't harm you, and what you did behind closed doors (or indeed under the table) was your own business. According to Bishop of Exeter in 1839, one in twelve women was a prostitute, although many of these were 'well dressed' and living in 'private lodgings' and not quite the 'ladies of the night' you might first imagine patrolling the Steampunk streets of London.

It's no surprise, then, that those more interested in naughty Victoriana were all about keeping things under wraps and going underground. This was the age of magicians and distractions, of high society parties and absinthe underground. While you were focussed on the dinner arriving at the table, your friend was fondling your wife's knee. While the lady of the house was taking tea in the drawing room, the man of the house was taking tea with the maid. It was also about secret sexiness, and about keeping things underwraps.

That's why we love this pop up book. At first glance it's all teapots and croquet; but a pull on the paper mechanics reveals an entirely different scene.

Each scene is captioned with a social construct – where elegant manners are essential and social etiquette was strictly observed – with the pull tabs creative a subversive yet hilarious scene that was sure to cause a titter! The book was published in 1982, and depicts the socially correct scenes of a century before at 1890.

Bird watching was a favourite activity, the book explains as the illustrations depict a woman admiring a bird in the tree, and a man searching the ground for wayward butterflies. A simple tug at the page pull reveals that the man finds the birds he was looking for – as he stares wide eyed at his female companion's chest.

Other scenes include a man popping up from between his female friend's legs in the bath, another man helping someone unlace their bust confining dress, and a troupe of dancers revealing their lacy undergarments as they swish their long skirts aside.