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three pairs of lovers with space



James Campbell Reddie (26 November 1807 – 4 July 1878) was a Scottish writer best known as an author and a serious and indefatigable collector of erotic literature. Both the literature he wrote himself and that he collected included every variety of erotica. He wrote under the name “James Campbell”, which he generally preferred. Of his writings, only one story is of Greek love interest, The Amatory Experiences of a Surgeon (1881), though his Adventures of a Schoolboy; or, The Freaks of Youthful Passion (1866) was devoted to the sexual activities of two pubescent boys with three pubescent girls.

His writings and his association with the boysexual Solomon are merely suggestive of his being boysexual himself. However, all that is actually known about his sexual interests comes from what is presented here concerning his seduction, with his landlord Adamo Pedroletti, of a fifteen-year-old boy in Margate, Kent in the summer of 1876. This consists of a letter he wrote in the following January to his fellow collector of erotic literature, Henry Spencer Ashbee, and a much more detailed account by Pedroletti, published in an erotic magazine in 1880.


Letter from James Campbell Reddie to Henry Spencer Ashbee

The shorter and more reliable account of Reddie’s seduction of the boy comes from the first part of the first of the “Five Letters from James Campbell Reddie to Henry Spencer Ashbee” posted online http://scissors-and-paste.net/pdf/Reddie_Letters.pdf with a long and erudite introduction by Patrick J. Kearney, one of the greatest bibliographers and historians of erotic literature. These were letters that came into Kearney’s possession and whose authenticity is not, in his expert opinion, in doubt.

Bath, January 15th 1877 [Monday] 

My Dear Ashbee,

Ashbee Henry Spencers bookplate
Book plate of Henry Spencer Ashbee

I thank you for your recent letter, and I trust you will forgive the tardiness of my reply. As you know, my sight has not been good for some while and coupled with generally poor health I felt that the cleaner air of Bath might renew some of my old vigour. There has also been the matter of a falling out with that damned dago who owned the house at Camden where I lived. I believe you met him on one of your visits to my rooms there. I will not weary you with the details; suffice it to say that my undoing may be laid to the credit of a weakness I conceived for the son of a Margate landlady at whose house I stayed for a few days last summer. Although an enthusiastic party to the proceedings himself, Pedroletti sought to extract money from me by threatening to inform the authorities.[1] When I protested, the blackguard locked me out of my rooms leaving me with the clothes I stood up in and a small valise in which was the manuscript of the catalogue of my collection and one or two other items of little interest to anyone but myself. I was obliged to abandon my books and papers, and doubtless they are by now with Lazenby who will already have a compositor at work on double shifts. I regret now ever having introduced the pair.[2] […]


Memoranda from Mr. P-.

This was published in issue 17 of the periodical The Pearl: A Magazine of Facetiae and Voluptuous Reading, published in November 1880 in London by William Lazenby. The Pearl was devoted to erotic stories of every variety. Ordinarily, one would not expect one of these stories to be true to much degree, but it is evident from Reddie’s foregoing letter and the evidence presented in the first footnote to it, that in this case ii is true in at least its essentials. The author, “Mr. P-“, was therefore the still-living Adamo Pedroletti.

Reddie James Campbell
James Campbell Reddie

Mr. Reddie used to call me Petro, as a short familiar name; but whilst he lodged with me at my house, Brecknock Crescent, Camden Town (N.B.- This is where I first was introduced to Mr. Reddie)[3], I was continually afraid he would bring himself or both of us into serious trouble.

Once, I remember, we went to Margate for a few weeks at the seaside, and the landlady of the house where we stopped had a very good-looking son, a youth not over fifteen, if quite so old. Mr. Reddie was in love at once, but how to win the boy over was the difficulty.

“Petro,” he would say, “I must fuck that boy or go out of my mind from frigging myself as I lie in bed and think of him. How can we manage it, old boy?”

I recommended patience, and an opportunity would be sure to turn up.

“Treat him well, and let’s take him out for a bathe or a walk with us whenever he will go,” I said.

My advice was taken. Young Frank was soon quite at home in our rooms and evidently pleased at being made such a favourite by the lodgers, who were always treating him to cakes, wine or fruit.

We took several promenades with him as companion, and in a few days he also regularly accompanied us and shared the same machine with us when we bathed.

How we joked him about his little doodle, asked him if it would stand stiff and about boys playing with each other’s cocks at school. This was of course done very carefully and gradually, and we began to think him discreet enough as he had often assured us that he told no tales out of school, when we gave him shillings or half-crowns.

His mother was a buxom woman of about eight and thirty, who had been left a widow for some years, her husband having been in the Civil Service, but died after they had been married about ten years.

Now Mrs. Glover was decidedly more to my taste than the boy. So I made assiduous courtship of her on my own account, for Mr. Reddie couldn’t even bear for a woman to touch him.

In the next seven and a half paragraphs, Pedroletti describes his seduction of Mrs. Glover …

I need not tell you more, how we used to sleep together every night, and that our liaison quite blinded her to our intentions regarding Master Frank.

We soon proceeded to all sorts of indecencies with the youth. Mr. Reddie and myself would compare the immense difference in the size of our pricks before him in the bathing-machine (Reddie's was a very small one, not five inches). We asked him to feel and judge for himself. The very touch of his delicate soft youthful hand made the seed shoot from me, which you may be sure immensely surprise the lad, and made him blush scarlet, so that we were afraid of having gone too far.

Kent Margate by Js. Kent 1868
                                                                Margate from the Pier by James Kent, 1868

Another morning Mr. Reddie gamahuched him till he spent in his mouth and seemed to enjoy the sucking, after which we handled each other's pricks and he amused himself with them, until we emitted our juice, mine spurting all over his belly as he stood in front of me. Then we went into the sea to refresh ourselves and afterwards made him a present of half a sovereign, which his innocent mother, I believe, thought was only a delicate way of pleasing herself.

A day or two after this, Mr. Reddie pretended to be obliged to return to town for two or three days and we easily persuaded Mrs. Glover to allow Frank to go with us, and I promised to show him all the sights, while Mr. Reddie was attending to his business; this she also took as another kindness to herself and we started on our journey.

We took apartments in town at the house of a Mrs. Anderson (an old friend of Mr. Reddie's where he was always safe to do as he pleased). They consisted of a sitting-room and bedroom adjoining, the latter with two beds in it so that Frank had to sleep with either one of us.

Then we showed him a fine collection of coloured plates of boys and girls, boys with boys or men, etc., some of the latter plainly showing they had got their cocks in their partners’ bottoms.

“You'll let him do it to you, Petro, won't you?” appealed Mr. Reddie as he whispered in ecstasy: “I shall soon be landed now!”

There was no object on my part; his little cock couldn't hurt me. Besides, I had a great fancy for it at the moment, and told him he must put his arms around my waist and handle my cock and make it come.

NN. Boy ca. 1850s Tullie Ho. Museum Carlisle
Unknown boy, 19th century (Tullie House Museum, Carlisle)

Frank was quite pleased to try. His youthful affair was quite stiff and hard at the idea of having a man.

We threw off everything and I knelt down on all fours on the hearth-rug. Then, Mr. Reddie guided Frank’s prick to my arse-hole and he soon wriggled it in whilst his hand clasped and frigged my big cock in front. It was so extraordinarily exciting to my ideas that I spent at once, and clasped one of my hands round each of his wrists to make him frig quicker; also to secure him in case he flinched from Reddie’s assault.

My friend had already got a finger well greased with cold cream up Frank’s fundament which the boy seemed to enjoy rather than not, as I might judge by the increasing activity of his little prick in my arse.

“Now, Frank,” said Mr. Reddie, “you will let me try to have you, won’t you, you dear boy? It won't hurt.”

I had previously taken a looking-glass from the dressing-table and placed it on the floor, so I could see every motion of both of my companions. With one hand Reddie was caressing the cock and balls of the boy, as he fucked my bottom, whilst his right hand presents his prick to the tight little pink arse-hole which kept bobbing towards him.

Frank winced a little at the attack; but Reddie being small, as I have said, had no difficulty in effectually getting into him. How his face flushed and his eyes sparkled with delight as he almost screamed out: “I’m in, oh, delicious! I’m landed at last, Petro, my dear fellow! I’m coming - I can’t stop!”

This made me come again and I also felt Frank spend at the same moment. We kept our places and had another splendid bottom-fuck before separating.

My prick was too big to get into either of my companions but I loved to have the boy fuck me, and frig me whilst Reddie had him.

The very thought of that adventure makes my old pego stand at any moment.

Pedroletti concludes his narrative with a short jocular anecdote unrelated to Reddie or the preceding story.

[1] ‘Pedroletti.’ Adamo Pedroletti was Campbell’s landlord at 26 Brecknock Crescent, Camden Town. The first clues to this occur in a somewhat startling contribution to the November 1880 issue of The Pearl, a pornographic periodical published by William Lazenby. Titled “Memoradum from Mr. P–” it begins “Mr. Reddie used to call me Petro, as a short familiar name; but whilst he lodged with me in my house, Brecknock Crescent, Camden Town […] I was continually afraid he would bring himself or both of us into trouble.”
    Peter Mendes checked the Post Office Directories of the period, and found that Adamo Pedroletti was the owner-occupier of 26 Brecknock Crescent from 1873-1876. He further discovered an entry in Ashbee’s unpublished diaries indicating that Ashbee visited Campbell at Camden on June 26th 1875. The entry provides Campbell’s precise address, clinching the matter. See: Peter Mendes, Clandestine Erotic Fiction in English 1800-1930 (Aldershot, 1993. p. 202.)
    Adamo Pedroletti died in the first quarter of 1881, aged about fifty-five, which is interesting in view of the fact that his ‘Memorandum’ was therefore published prior to his decease. [Footnote 1 to Patrick J. Kearney, “Five Letters from James Campbell Reddie to Henry Spencer Ashbee”]

[2] William Lazenby, a major publisher of pornography in late 19th century London who took over the reins of the trade from William Dugdale after his death in 1868. The reference to Reddie abandoning his collection is interesting, since he is supposed to have sold it to Ashbee in 1877. It is perhaps possible that the bulk of Reddie’s collection was kept elsewhere, and that it was this other stash that was purchased by Ashbee. [Footnote 2 to Patrick J. Kearney, “Five Letters from James Campbell Reddie to Henry Spencer Ashbee”]

[3] The sentence “(N.B.– This is where I first was introduced to Mr. Reddie)” in the first paragraph of this Memorandum appears likely to have been an insertion by William Lazenby, editor of The Pearl. Whether this means that Lazenby knew Pedroletti and met Reddie when visiting him, or whether the two were introduced by a fourth party, is impossible to say. [Footnote 1 to Patrick J. Kearney, “Five Letters from James Campbell Reddie to Henry Spencer Ashbee”]