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Stephen Fry's Victorian Secrets

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really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  933 ratings  ·  105 reviews
Audible Original

Legendary British comic Stephen Fry is our tour guide to the highs and the lows of Victorian society. In popular culture, the straitlaced era is portrayed as one of propriety, industry, prudishness, and piety. But scratch the surface and you’ll find haunting tales of scandal, sadism, sex, madness, malice, and murder.
Audiobook
Published November 1st 2018 by Audible Studios
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really liked it Average rating 4.00  · 
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Auntie Terror
Dec 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
12 interesting, short episodes focussing on the sides of Victorian life usually not given centre-stage: same-sex love, the treatment of "lunatics", Afro-Victorians, spiritualism, erotica, (recreational) drug use - and a lot more. There isn't only Stephen Fry but also a number of voice actors and experts involved in this who all contribute to make this rather informative. ...more
Tony
Jul 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Audio series:
Whilst many of the secrets contained herein may not so much a secret in these times, these are all exceptionally entertaining.

Mr Fry is, as always, wonderfully erudite in his delivery which makes for a series of fantastic tales set against the Victorian background.

Listen, you will enjoy!
Leslie
Apr 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Entertaining and informative set of 'essays' about various aspects of Victorian life that the Victorians tended to keep secret - sex (both hetero- and homosexual), drugs, madness, murder to name a few topics. The authors draw extensively on diaries and other contemporary sources. ...more
Marta
Dec 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this fun historical romp through the Victorian underbelly. This Audible freebie is not an audiobook; rather a 12-episode radio series that examines a different topic each. We get insight into Victorian family secrets, murders and murderesses, sex and pornography, mental illnesses, gay and lesbian love affairs, and in one memorable episode, the origins of the water closet, toilet paper and the word “crapper” (it is a name!). Stephen Fry narrates and interviews expert historians - sound ...more
Kristen
Mar 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I impulse got this on Audible because of the fact that Stephen Fry narrates it and I wasn't in the slightest disappointed. It covered a variety of topics in the Victorian era, including things that I wouldn't have really thought of as secrets. Very informational and historical in a way that made it amusing and interesting to listen to! I highly recommend this to anyone looking for a historically accurate listen about the Victorian Era. ...more
Sue Lander
May 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Interesting take on Victorian fascination/revusion/treatment of racism, women criminals, mental health, same-sex relationships, drug use, image-consciousness and others. Very interesting to me was the chapter on bodily waste disposal and public health. Often gruesome, but a well-researched treatment of history.
Nath
May 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
[Can’t remember the exact dates I started and finished. So given a rough estimate.]
My favourite audiobook ever. I very often revisit it and will do for years to come. Stephen Fry brings to life the Victorian era again with the help of actor and actresses. He also talks to historians which is my favourite parts! Can’t praise this audiobook enough. I’d give it 5,000 starts if I could!!!
Matias Myllyrinne
Jul 09, 2020 rated it liked it
Entertaining (audio) book, light and moves along. However, just feels like a set of interesting anecdotes and stories - rather than a cohesive package.

Recommended for moments where you don’t want to think too much and just enjoy short stories about an era. Fry is witty but somehow this work feels lazy or rushed. On a bad day, he is still okay.
Liss Carmody
Jan 26, 2021 rated it really liked it
My first audiobook of 2021! Good times. As long-time readers of my reviews are no doubt aware, audiobooks and I often do not get on, for a variety of reasons. This hit the sweet spot, however - less like a book and more like a podcast or a series of essays on a variety of taboo or scandalous topics oriented around the 19th century. It skims across the surface and I added more than a few deeper dives by expert authors who contributed their knowledge to various episodes to my future reading list. ...more
Mert
Aug 30, 2020 rated it liked it
3/5 Stars (%67/100)

I wanted to give 4 stars but decided not to. Instead, it is a high 3 star (almost 4 stars) and it is much better in my opinion. I really like Stephen Fry and that's why I wanted to give it a go. Fry's humour is brilliant but I also loved his comments and books about mythology. I am also personally interested in Victorian Era so this book was perfect for me. However, I did not enjoy every chapter in this collection. There is 12 in total and they all talk about the different asp
...more
Jefferson
Aug 03, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
An Entertaining, Informative but Busy Documentary

Listening to Stephen Fry’s Victorian Secrets (2018), written by John Wolf and Nick Baker, read by Stephen Fry, and performed by several actors, is like listening to a spicy BBC documentary series in which the witty host goes time traveling in the 19th century to introduce us to some sensational examples of odd features of the Victorian era.

Here are the twelve episodes:

Episode 1 “Family Secrets” is about secrets relating to race and legitimacy:
...more
Hannah
Jan 07, 2021 rated it really liked it
Mixed feelings about this one, mostly because of the lighthearted tone that glossed over a few very sad or cruel situations. But overall, it was a good glimpse into Victorian history, and I appreciated the accuracy and source-citing. 3 stars and adding one for the always fantastic narration from Stephen Fry.
Denise
Feb 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2021
Stephen Fry, delightfully entertaining as ever, delves into what was going on beneath the prim and proper veneer of Victorian society, covering a range of subjects in twelve episodes. While I clearly spend too much time on similar subjects and thus was familiar with a lot of the interesting lesser known historical figures and (in-)famous incidents presented here, I still learned a few curious tidbits and found the whole thing very diverting.
Lina
Nov 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
I really loved this. I haven't read a lot of non-fiction based in the victorian era, so this was really interesting. I think it's a good starting point for further reading, and I hope to pursue similar texts at a later date. ...more
starduest
May 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Interesting peek into the Victorian period although not all of this will be new information. Bumped up as I'll listen to anything narrated to Stephen Fry ...more
Hannah
Aug 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Audio Series - I listened to these essays/stories on my commute to work everyday and thoroughly enjoyed them. The episodes were brilliantly composed, insightful and informative of the Victorian era and Stephen Fry was a perfect narrator.
Selena Winters
Jul 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars. Only gripe I had was the music got super repetitive after a couple of hours. Otherwise a good listen, and I got a few good book recommendations out of it too!
Elyse
May 07, 2020 rated it liked it
GR has added this and then removed it and then added it again. STOP IT. You keep messing up my numbers! Listened to this during a Dewey's event last year. ...more
Selenity Jade (Coffee Addicts Book Reviews)
This was a pretty interesting and educational listen, if you're interested in the Victorian time period. Plus Stephen Fry is fun to listen to! ...more
A.M.
Oct 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: i-own, audiobook
On the surface, the Victorian age is one of propriety, industry, prudishness and piety. But scratch the surface and you’ll find scandal, sadism, sex, madness, malice and murder.
Presented by Stephen Fry, this series delves deep into a period of time we think we know, to discover an altogether darker reality. The stories we’re told offer a different perspective on an era which underwent massive social change. As education, trade, technology and culture blossomed, why was there an undercurrent of t
...more
Karina E
Feb 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobooks
I recommend this brilliantly produced audiobook/podcast/series of essays to anyone who is even remotely interested in exploring the often bizarre and contradictory nature (to our present sensibilities) of Victorian society in the UK. The series focuses on the often hidden private affairs of Victorians which were in stark contrast to the promoted morality at the time.
I believe it makes a perfect companion to a TV series, such as Penny Dreadful, which explores similar darker aspects of Victorian
...more
Vikas
Mar 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nbtr, owned, audio-books
This free series on Audible was a joy to listen to and I immensely enjoyed my journey to the 1800s of the UK. We Indians were of course supplier of all the wealth to the Britishers at the time but well that's the tale for other times. This is not a narration of a book but rather 12 episodes with music and acting and recreation of the Victorian times to focus on 12 juicy details not discussed normally. Like I said I loved to listen to the episodes and would definitely jump to enjoy the other free ...more
Jessica Reyer
Aug 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
If you are interested in the Victorian Era and taboo topics, then there is a lot to like about this book. It is a study of the secrets of the Victorian culture. I am a fair-weather fan when it comes to this time period. I find I either like it or not. I found this book rather interesting because these are the people that have shaped our society today. I gotta say it's good to know we have come a long way in many ways, yet sad, because we still carry a tinge of the past sentiments. Technology has ...more
Nina
Mar 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes you are relieved to finish an audiobook, other times you just feel really sad that the experience is over. This one is definitely in the latter category. After first listening to Stephen Fry's English Delight: Series 1-8, and then this, (and not to mention the fact that I have listened to him reading the entire Sherlock Holmes collection once and the Harry Potter series a number of times,) I have become so accustomed to listening to him and his brilliant performances that I think I wil ...more
Liz Wilson
Sep 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A thoroughly enjoyable and educational romp through the lesser-known corners of Victorian English society, delivered with aplomb as only Stephen Fry can. Twelve episodes focus on all elements of social history of this period, from homosexuality to crime, pornography to asylums. Some of the episodes were more interesting than others, but each followed a similar formula of general exploration interspersed with specific anecdotes and characters, voiced by a colourful cast of audio actors. These sni ...more
Leanda Brooks
Mar 26, 2021 rated it really liked it
Stephen Fry knows how to make learning fun! I mean I knew he had an amazing voice, but this guy is made for narrating.

In twelve short episodes we dive into the secrets and scandals of the Victorian age (1837-1901). Each episode focuses on the sides of Victorian life that were pretty unusual. There is an episode about same sex relationships, the asylum, Afro-Victorians, séances and even Sherlock Holmes.

The episodes have a perfect balance between being entertaining and informative. With the help o
...more
Beth (FebruaryFilly)
Not sure on dates read bc goodreads erased this from the system in their ‘war on audiobooks’ crap. Downloaded nov 2018 as freebie and it was shortly after that I listened to it. If I had a whole review written, I can’t remember, which ticks me off. Go erasing people’s records. Grrrrr.

It also dawns on me that this is why my 2018 reading challenge suddenly looked like I missed the mark by 1 book which I really wouldn’t have done. Y’all need to stop messing with it.
Iulia Vladu
Mar 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully narrated, 'Stephen Fry's Victorian Secrets' is a collection of stories depicting the lives of victorians of all classes and the way they related to different concepts like race, sexuality, religion, murder, drugs, mental health, handicap and other health conditions. It also looks into the roles, rights and image of women and men in the Victorian society.

This has honestly been a great experience that I would recommend without hesitation.
...more
Boudewijn
Very entertaining and informative set of essays about Victorian life, with topics ranging from sex (both hetero- and homosexual), freak shows, madness, and spiritualism to name a few topics. As this is an Audible Original, do not expect a dry and humourless work of non-fiction, but rather a witty and entertaining audiobook witl lots of interviews with experts, all narrated by that modern Victorian Stephen Fry.
Tracy Richard
May 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is more of a 3.75 for me. This covers life in Victorian England. The lifestyles and scandelous history were interesting though it may be a bit heavy sexually for some. The chapters were dedicated to types of habits and customs of the times often including true stories. The narration, being an audible, was well done.
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