The Origin of Life: a popular treatise on the philosophy and physiology of reproduction in plants and animals, including the details of human generation with a full description of the male and female organs ...


Early edition, and an especially nice copy, of this antebellum popular medical text on human sexuality written by this noted sex educator and Owenite.

First published in 1845, The Origin of Life… was a synthesis of Hollick’s lectures on human sexuality. Atwater described the text as “the first popular book to address the subject of reproductive physiology in a scholarly way, using the best information then available and citing sources.”¹ Through Hollick’s lectures and books, sex education became more accessible and accepted in the public sphere.

A year after the book’s publication, obscenity charges were brought against Hollick in Philadelphia, as had been brought against him in 1845. Efforts to convict him failed and publishers profited as sales skyrocketed.

The book’s frank nature addressed not only facts of procreation and gestation, but also a chapter devoted to explaining “The Sexual Feeling” and to describing “erotomania” and the consequences of having too much sex. The Addenda contained information about hermaphrodites, the difficulties of establishing virginity, whether intercourse could happen while a woman was sleeping, if rape or a single act of coitus could result in a pregnancy, etc. 

Hollick lectured to both male and female audiences, and claimed to have lectured to over 2,000 women in Boston (xxxvi). Lydia Maria Child endorsed Hollick. (xlvi-xlvii)


Description: The Origin of Life: a popular treatise on the philosophy and physiology of reproduction in plants and animals, including the details of human generation with a full description of the male and female organs ...

New-York: T.W. Strong and Boston: G.W. Cottrell & Co., (1845) [1849?]. 274, 57 (Addenda), [xvii, (“Notices of Books)”], [1] pp. “99th Edition”. Frontispiece + 11 plates (all uncolored). Publisher’s cloth. Binding lightly and uniformly faded; a tight and clean copy; Very Good.

[3730708]

Ref. Brodie, Contraception and Abortion in Nineteenth-century America (1994). Note 1. Atwater 1728, attributes the publication date of 1849 based on an “an advertisement for The male generative organs, which was first published in 1849.” We do not see this ad, but we do see a testimonials dated from 1847. T.W. Strong of New York likely published from the plates of Nafish & Cornish (Atwater 1724). OCLC: Rochester only.


Price: $250.00

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