Lingerie in Literature

Posted by
Anna Pollitt
backgroundLayer 1
Add this article to your list of favourites

Underwear is a visually powerful tool, but how does it fare in the written word?

Ian McEwan favours relentlessly detailed descriptions - right down to the tiny daisy embroidered on Cecilia's bra in Atonement. Jane Austen, on the other hand, moans in letters to her sister about the "unnatural" fashion for pushed-up bosoms and we've all become familiar with EL James' most over-used undergarment in the Fifty Shades trilogy. Yes we're looking at you, "panties".

Here we bring you 20 of our favourite instances of lingerie in literature (and click your way over here if you fancy the fully-clothed version).

Tell us know your best undies in books on Twitter, or in the comments, below.

Images: Rex Features

  • Clarissa by Samuel Richardson

  • The Collected Dorothy Parker

  • Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

  • Bridget Jones' Diary - Helen Fielding

  • Atonement by Ian McEwan

  • Rejection by Franz Kafka

  • Nana by Emile Zola

  • The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald

  • A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

  • Mr. Mulliner Speaking by P.G. Wodehouse

  • Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable: A Trilogy by Samuel Beckett

  • Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

  • Lady Chatterley's Lover by DH Lawrence

  • Les Misérables by Victor Hugo

  • Catch 22 by Joseph Heller

  • SantaLand Diaries by David Sedaris

  • Gentleman Alone by Pablo Neruda

  • Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James

  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy

  • Jane Austen's Letters


Share this article


Anna Pollitt

Anna is a freelance writer and editor who’s been making her dime from online since 2007. She’s a regular at, ITV News and Emerald Street and moonlights as a copywriter and digital content consultant.