At the beginning of the 20th century there was no education in schools. Society was very inhibited and people didn’t talk about sex. And on the other hand, the brothels thrived. During this era, Marie Stopes published her guide “Married Love” in German: love in marriage.

Stopes was the first modern mailbox consultant. Men and women sought her advice on sexual issues. At times she received 1,000 letters in just one week.

Not only were people ignorant, sex was a dangerous thing back then. There was no medicine that promised a cure for sexually transmitted diseases; once infected, there was a risk of lifelong illness. Many women died in childbirth because they were afraid of sex and the resulting pregnancies. “Decent” men, on the other hand, distrusted their “animal” desires and sought help to complete the marital act in such a way that their partner would not suffer unnecessarily.

The general thinking was that sex was an imposition on women. Until Marie Stopes published her guide 100 years ago. She demanded that sex should not be a miserable chore, but rather a pleasure for men and women. A shocking thesis from the young scientist. Stopes wrote: “It should be clear to every man that he does not win a woman once and for all by marrying her. He must court her before every single act of coitus.”

Stopes’ book sold sensationally and the time was ripe for it. The First World War had led to disruption everywhere and the world of the 19th century had come to an end. The era of white-collar workers, mass production of consumer goods and newspapers and magazines began. And the era of women also began. Independence and self-confident professional activity for women were far from being a given, but neither were they exotic special cases. The young scientist with a doctorate was part of this transformation herself and she captured the tone of the times. She helped her readers gain control of their bodies. More than 10,000 letters to Stopes have been preserved in the British Library. They give a picture of the fears and hopes that dominated bedrooms back then.

“I am a young mother of two beautiful children. I had a terrible time giving birth. The doctor told me not to have any more children. Could you please give me some advice on how I can prevent having more? “

“I was asked by a friend to collect reliable information on the following topic. She is thinking of getting married – to a man much younger than herself. She is 61 years old and of course the monthly periods have been a few years ago time stopped.

She fears that there is absolutely no chance of motherhood for her. Is that so? I will enclose a stamped and addressed envelope and will be happy to pay the consultation fee.”

“Tonight I read your book “Married Love” and I cannot go to bed without writing to you to thank you for the great hope that the book has given me for the future of my married life.”

“When you refer to the question of positions in your important book, Married Love, I think that as someone who has had more than 20 years of unusually happy married life, I may be permitted a few words to add, what you wrote,

I don’t think the experience of the lady who told you she felt almost crushed every time is that unusual. I know a beautiful young woman who says she wishes her husband wasn’t so heavy.

“It’s shocking to think of her delicate body being tensed and pinned under a heavy man. It’s both stupid and unnecessary.”

“I am writing to know if you can give me some advice. I am only 27 and have five children, the eldest nine years old and the youngest 18 months. My husband is always unemployed and I am plagued by a constant worry – of a month to the next one because I don’t want to have any more children. Hoping for an answer soon.”

“Would you please tell me where I can purchase the devices mentioned in your book on birth control? I don’t have the courage to go to a store. A head nurse told me to go to the women’s hospital, but since she didn’t tell me, I didn’t go to ask what I was supposed to ask.”

“You should write something about the narrow, separate beds that were imported from countries on the continent. I don’t understand how they can allow a couple to have comfortable positions, but we’ve never used them either.”

“We have a beautiful little baby girl. Three children have been born to us before, but this is the first time a child is alive. Since her birth, I have not had any real intercourse with my wife as I felt like I was giving her all that again To cause the pain she had with the dead children. She also no longer has any desire to have children.

However, we both love the joys of married life. I play with her with my fingers while she holds my “person”. But I feel that we are doing wrong and now I am at a loss as to my duty.

I do not mention my name letter, but perhaps you will deal with this matter in the next book you write on this subject.”

“Doesn’t it indicate a dirty state of mind when a man gives in to his desire for fornication, or a woman to her desire for simple fornication?

Even if they are married – unless conception is the goal of the sexual connection. Nothing degrades the spirit more than this form of legalized fornication. Why don’t you recommend the only clean way? The abstinence!”

“Return to your country Scotland and preach your dirty methods there. Decent English people are disgusted by your dirty suggestions in Married Love.”

“I am writing to you for your advice because I am very worried. The man I am going to marry this year had an accident a few weeks ago. As I helped remove his bloodstained and torn clothes, I couldn’t help but see , that his sexual organs were very large. Since then, the thought of marital relations has worried me, since I myself am small in this respect.

Could you advise me or suggest something that will help me?

I would be grateful if you would tell me openly, because I don’t have a mother or sister to ask about this matter, and I don’t want to ask friends, otherwise they might think I’m too hasty.”

As memorable as her consulting work was and as great as her contributions to women’s medical care are, Marie Stopes is not without controversy. Like many sex researchers of the time, she propagated Social Darwinist theses on eugenics.

Also read:

She revealed her best friend’s husband’s affair – then they both left her

Infidelity – the greatest danger to your relationship lurks within your circle of friends

Things go downhill at 30 – it affects the body

Cam girls –  the illusion of maintaining dignity in front of the sex camera