Betwixt The Sheets: The History of Sex, Scandal & Society

Betwixt The Sheets: The History of Sex, Scandal & Society

Why did kings and queens have spectators on their wedding night? Who had the very first boob job? And did our ancestors have their unmentionables pierced? Join historian, Kate Lister, Betwixt the Sheets as she unashamedly roots around the topics which seem to have been skipped in history class. Everything from landmark LGBTQ+ court cases, to political scandal, to downright bizarre medieval cures for impotence. The etymology of swear words, gender bias in medicine, and satanic panic and cults - there’s nothing off limits. She'll be bed-hopping around different time periods; from ancient civilisations, to the middle ages, to renaissance and early modern...right up to now. You’ll laugh, you’ll wince, and you’ll ask yourself how much has actually changed. So join Kate Betwixt the Sheets: The History of Sex, Scandal & Society - a podcast from History Hit. Hosted on Acast. See for more information.


December 6, 2022 34 min

How much did Britain and its allies know about the Holocaust? Could the Bengal Famine of 1943 have been helped? And was Elizabeth I really the Virgin Queen? 


Lynsey Calver is a history teacher, and in this episode, she helps us to fill in some of the gaps on the history curriculum.


*WARNING There are adult themes and discussions of racism and the Holocaust in this episode*


Produced by Charlotte Long and Sophie Gee. Mixed by Joseph ...

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Why were the ovaries once seen as inverted testes? What words might you use if you were trying to describe a condition 'down there' to your doctor? And why did people once believe that you couldn't conceive a baby whilst standing up?

In this episode of Betwixt the Sheets, we're clearing away the smoke, mirrors and occasional cobwebs from the mysterious realms of sexual science. Kate is joined by Emily Nagoski, author...

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November 29, 2022 45 min

*This episode contains very strong language and adult content*

A semi autobiographical account from a conflicted man? An ode to a wife’s sexual desire? A criminally obscene novel?

Lady Chatterley’s Lover is one of the most famous texts from the past century, but why?

In this episode, we hear from the director of the new Netflix movie Laure De Clermont-Tonnerre about why this story is important to the 21st century. Then, Kate speaks to...

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November 25, 2022 43 min

It’s so important that it’s been ‘discovered’ at least twice, but what is the clitoris and why has it previously been so hard to find?

The clitoris is the human female’s most erogenous zone, and is responsible for 75% of women’s orgasms. So why has it been so overlooked and demonised, and how have people sought to control female pleasure through it?

Kate is joined by Sarah Chadwick, author of ‘The Sweetness of Venus’ to discuss the s...

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November 22, 2022 40 min

What do we know about the people who shared the surname Mussolini with the Italian fascist dictator?

Edda Mussolini may have been Benito’s daughter, but she was also the wife of a convicted traitor, an unwilling mother and a hard-drinking socialite.


To find out about Edda’s life and its connections with the Italian and German leadership, Kate spoke to Caroline Moorehead, author of the new biography ‘Edda Mussolini: The Most Dangerou...

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November 18, 2022 47 min

George V, Otzi the Iceman, possibly Winston Churchill and … Kate Lister. What do all these people have in common?

They have tattoos. As do a fifth of the population of the United Kingdom.

In this episode, Kate speaks to tattoo historian Matt Lodder about the origins of tattoos, their meanings and why certain stereotypes have become attached to them.

*WARNING there are naughty words and adult themes in this episode*

Produced by Charlott...

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November 15, 2022 43 min

What makes a heartthrob? Is he brooding, flamboyant or a bad boy? And what qualities translate to sex symbol status in society?

Which men have made the hearts of young (heterosexual) women flutter over the centuries? And why?

Today, Carol Dyhouse joins Kate to talk about the history of famous men who have lit women’s hearts on fire.

*WARNING There are adult themes and naughty words in this episode*

Produced by Charlotte Long and Sophie...

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November 11, 2022 37 min

We might now be used to hearing about the intimate details of celebrities and world leaders, but when did this become the norm?

In the lead up to the Second World War, a collection of American journalists began to report not only on world affairs - interviewing Hitler, Gandhi and Mussolini to name a few - but also private affairs, their own and those of others.

Today, Kate is Betwixt the Sheets with Deborah Cohen to find out about th...

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November 8, 2022 44 min

How did the people of Ancient China think about sex?

From sexual vampirism to unrealistic representations of courtesan culture, from wife lending to avoiding *ahem* finishing: in this episode Kate and Paul R. Goldin from the University of Pennsylvania delve into the beds and sexual beliefs of Ancient China.

*WARNING there are adult themes and mentions of rape in this episode*

Produced by Charlotte Long and Sophie Gee. Mixed by Anisha ...

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November 4, 2022 54 min

It can happen on a bus, in a park, in your home, at the school gates. An estimated one in every ten women in England and Wales have reported it happening to them.

So why do people flash? And when did it become criminalised?

Indecent exposure is when someone deliberately exposes their genitals in order to frighten or upset someone else. It is difficult to prove, and has been prosecuted under a number of different laws during our histo...

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November 1, 2022 48 min

From Dracula, to Frankenstein, to Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, to Twilight’s Edward Cullen…when did our fascination with gothic fiction begin?

In today’s episode Kate is joined by Abby Boucher & Daniel Jenkin-Smith to talk about the origins of gothic fiction, how we define it, and the gender dynamics in the books and films throughout the centuries.

You can hear Abby and Daniel’s podcast, Save Me From My Shelf, here

Produced by Charlot...

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October 28, 2022 44 min

Everybody hold hands! We're going for a seance!

How long have we've been trying to talk to dead people for? And have we ever actually been speaking to the dead or just to somebody’s clicky toe joints?

In today's episode Kate is joined by Lisa Morton, author of 'Calling the Spirits: A History of Seances', to talk about the long history of spiritualism, its believers and its fraudsters!

Produced by Charlotte Long and...

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October 25, 2022 42 min

How long have people believed in ghosts?

Eleanor Janega is back Betwixt the Sheets with Kate to tell us why you should always stand up to ghosts and why you might be visited by a woman with frogs sucking on her body.

From improper burials to resentful visitors, they delve into people’s beliefs in ghosts and how they have changed through history.

*WARNING there are naughty words and adult topics in this episode*

Produced by Charlotte Lo...

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October 21, 2022 47 min

Did Henry VIII really have syphilis? Who died from a red hot poker up the bum? And which king was taken down by a school of fish?

To learn about the often gruesome ways that our royals have met their doom, Kate gets Betwixt the Sheets with Suzie Edge, TikTok historian and author of ‘Mortal Monarchs: 1000 Years of Royal Deaths’.

*WARNING there are naughty words and gory discussions of death in this episode*

Produced by Charlotte Long a...

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October 18, 2022 39 min

Who were Ignatius Sancho, Dido Elizabeth Belle and Francis Barber?

Between 10,000 and 30,000 black people lived in Britain during the Georgian period. Despite this, some people have remained convinced that black British history doesn't start until after the Second World War.

In this episode, Kate speaks to Gretchen Gerzina about some of the individuals who lived in Georgian Britain, their lives and their livelihoods.

*WARNING ther...

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What does it take to get the reputation as one of the least popular queens in history?

Should we remember Henrietta Maria as the wife of the King executed by his subjects, the Catholic influencer and a serial adulterer? Or as a prankster, a patron of the arts and a mother of two Kings?

Henrietta Maria became Queen Consort of England, Scotland and Ireland aged 15. A quarter of a century and a civil war later she was widowed when her h...

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October 11, 2022 39 min

What is it with our culture’s fascination with serial killers? Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, Peter Sutclifffe, Jack the Ripper….these violent people are as well known as our national treasures, but we only know them for their horrific crimes.

What role does misogyny play in how these serial killers are portrayed on our screens and in our newspapers? And how does it affect court cases? 

Today Kate is joined by historian Hallie Rubenhold,...

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October 7, 2022 40 min

What did Salvador Dali, Elizabeth I and Sigmund Freud have in common? They all had phobias, and it's possible you do too.

As ‘normal’ as you might consider yourself to be, it is highly likely that you have an irrational streak. Phobias and manias are very common, and we have a lot of names for them.

In this episode of Betwixt the Sheets, Kate is joined by Kate Summerscale. Find out when we started naming our fears and compulsions...

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October 4, 2022 35 min

Why is there an assumption that Victorian Britain was white? Who does this mean is missing from our history books? And how can we find out more about the lives of black people in the Victorian Era?

Today, Kate is joined by Dr Keshia Abrahams and Dr John Woolf, authors of ‘Black Victorians: Hidden in History’. Keshia and John introduce us to physician George Rice, abolitionist Sarah Parker Remond and more.

Produced by Charlotte Long a...

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September 30, 2022 38 min

You might know him best as the longest reigning Scottish king, the son of Mary, Queen of Scots, the father of Charles I, or the eponymous poster of the translation of the bible into English.

But King James VI of Scotland, and I of England, had some very questionable traits and got up to shady stuff… Today Kate is joined Betwixt the Sheets with Huw Lemmey and Ben Miller to explore why James was actually a very naughty King indeed.


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