The salacious sex lives of the Qing Dynasty

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Court life in the dying days of Imperial China was a hotbed of sex and scandal, according to a salacious memoir by a British sinologist that has lain unpublished for more than half a century.

'Décadence Mandchoue', written by Sir Edmund Trelawny Backhouse, a homosexual British sinologist who claimed to have slept with Oscar Wilde and raised money to fund the writer's legal defence, paints a pornographic portrait of Manchu officials, court eunuchs and the bordellos and bathhouses they frequented during the Qing Dynasty before its collapse in 1911.

Among Backhouse's more outrageous claims is that he conducted a six-year sexual liaison with the Empress Dowager Cixi which he relates in graphic detail, telling how he was ushered into the 69-year-old's bedchamber and ordered to perform a variety of sexual services for her....

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