Wolf illuminates a dramatic history - how the Obscene Publications Act of 1857 led to reverberations lasting to our day. At once, dissent and morality, deviancy and normalcy, became modern legal concepts: if writers, editors, printers, and booksellers did not uphold the law and the morals of society they faced serious repercussions. Wolf depicts the ways this censorship played out - decades before the infamous trial of Oscar Wilde - among a bohemian group of 'sexual dissidents', including Walt Whitman in America and the English critic John Addington Symonds, who fell in love with Whitman's homoerotic voice in Leaves of Grass. This was a dangerous love, even if only expressed on the page. Algernon Charles Swinburne, Dante and Christina Rossetti, Walter Pater and painter Simeon Solomon were among the artists whose lives were shadowed with jeopardy.