Monica Janssens is an author, tutor and historian who has enjoyed a diverse career path including the law, banking, the theatre, art, journalism, public relations and writing.
After graduating in English Literature at the University of Hull, and doing a Law conversion course at the College of Law, she began working as a solicitor. She then set out on a multi-diverse career-mix of investment banking, public relations, writing and art. Monica currently runs a highly successful business providing private tuition in History, English and Politics, which she pursues while researching and writing her books.
Monica has written a number of articles for print and digital media. These are just a small sample. In June 2009, she edited Parliament and Council articles for a commentator on developments in the European Economy (minutes, announcements, forecasts). In May 2010, she contributed to an article for the Sunday Times entitled ‘Dream On’. This was a piece about beds and was shot at Osterley House. In July 2008, Monica wrote an article for Eve magazine entitled ‘What Really Happens in Rehab’, a piece about mental illness. She has written further articles on this subject including for the Vulpes Libris blog ‘Has the Misery Memoir Reached the End of the Road’, in June 2008, and, in May 2008, ‘The Liteature of Depression’ for The Reader blog.
Part of her work in the theatre has included staging plays; she has adapted existing texts including PG Wodehouse, What Ho! Jeeves (Feb 2011) and Terence Rattigan’s French Without Tears (2016)
In the course of her career, Monica has given a number of talks, demonstrations and television appearances. This has often been in conjunction with her experience working in public relations. These include:
April 2011. ‘The Art of Theatre Production’ - talk to Playden Theatre Group
April 2011: ‘The Romantic Poets’ - talk to Winchelsea Literary Society
April 2011: ‘Mrs Dalloway’ - talk to Winchelsea Literary Society
Dec 2010: ‘Ten Beds that Made History’ - talk to Winchelsea Literary Society and to Rye Museum
June 2006: ‘Eighteenth Century Decorative Painting’- workshop at Victoria & ALbert Museum, London
Sept 2001-April 2002 - Discovery TV. Live display of decorative painting techniques
May 2001: Granda Breakfast TV - live presentation of simple trompe-l’oeil techniques
Monica lives in Winchelsea in East Sussex, the smallest town in England, which is steeped in history and provides her with oodles of inspiration for her writing.
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50 copies of the autographed limited edition of the book "Sex, Status and Sanctuary” + Free invitation to the book launch for you and 3 members of your team + your company's name mentioned in the book as a Sponsor + one of the 69 beds included int the book devoted to one of your products.
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69 Beds and What They Say About You
An edgy snoop at 69 beds and the jaw-dropping secrets of their famous, notorious and dysfunctional owners. You will start to wonder: ‘What does my bed say about me?’Share Tweet LinkedIn Embed pszr.co/xbQHm 2786 views
|8 publishers interested|
Walk this way. That’s right. Just a little closer.
Hold your eye to the keyhole and peer into a world of eye-popping secrets.
Welcome to Sex, Status and Sanctuary.
Everyone relishes the blissful feeling of leaping into a freshly laundered bed at the end of a tiring day. Whether it’s a contemporary construction made from rare earth magnets, a four-poster topped with ostrich plumes, or a worn mattress thrown on the floor, our bed acts as a haven from the storms and tempests of life. It’s where we launch our hopes and aspirations and confide our innermost secrets; consummate our love for our partners, conceive and give birth to our children; and bid a final goodbye to loved ones.
The bed is also the scene of many a dark deed: among them, rape, murder and child abuse.
Yet, despite the central role of the bed in our lives, we by and large take it for granted, oblivious to the fact that no other item of furniture has enjoyed such a long pedigree. Our beds have the ability to tell a story full of scintillating snippets of history and contemporary living; about what it means to be human – with all our foibles, follies and flaws - and to live in times of change and upheaval. Our beds are a mine of information: point to any bed at any time and it will tell you what is going on in the world. Sex, Status and Sanctuary seeks to tell that hitherto untold story.
I have always adored beds. It is just not their prurient appeal; their oxymoronic association with pleasure and pain; their ability to harbour century-old secrets; or their exploitation by humans to realize outlandish (and sometimes inhuman) desires. An experienced historian, journalist and writer, I have conducted years of painstaking research and am uniquely placed to tell this enthralling tale.
Readers will find this edgy, witty take on a mundane object fun and absorbing for many reasons, three of which are:
* You will have a ball spying on the private world of some of the weirdest, zaniest, most colourful characters such as Longleat’s Lord of Loins and his numerous ‘wifelets’; eighteenth-century quack and sexual therapist Dr Graham; and the Victorian inventor of an alarm clock bed which tipped you into a cold bath.
* You’ll learn many eccentric, amusing, quirky facts not common knowledge, beginning with pre-Stone Age history and culminating in our technology-obsessed world. One 17th-century innkeeper constructed a bed to act as a murder weapon to polish off his rich clientele; today, there is a bed worth £1.5 million constructed of magnets which hovers off the floor.
* It will make you think about human nature, what motivates you and makes you tick. You will begin to wonder: what does my bed say about me and those close to me?
• I have chosen to feature sixty-nine bed because of the overtly sexual connotations of this number. Almost everybody sniggers when they hear it. Accordingly, there will be a double-page feature on each of the sixty-nine beds comprising text (see samples) and an illustration. I am currently talking to potential illustrators with a view to ensuring the illustrations accompanying each bed are edgy, quirky and amusing. They will feature not only the bed, but the character involved and also any other fascinating aspects of the bed and its owner. The sixty-nine beds will be paraded in chronological order from pre-Stone Age to the present day.
• A section listing places where beds (if they still exist and are available to the general public) can be visited. I want readers to know where they can find these beds - hotels, museums, stores - so that they can satisfy their interest. It also may increase the sponsorship potential of the book. If organisations are mentioned, they are likely to be amenable to ordering a copy.
* A section connecting readers with my website where they can share their observations on beds. This is to engage my readership interactively and to garner further interest.
• A section listing brief end-notes featuring citations (there are probably no more than 20 in the whole book)
• Acknowledgments including sponsors
This book would appeal to all people between 35 and 65 who are interested in history, sex and human nature, and who enjoy soaking up titillating titbits about people’s private lives - especially if they are famous, historical or wealthy. And the more dysfunctional the better.
The book would appeal equally to men and women who are educated, successful and urbane, though I expect it to have more resonance with women. In my experience, women love talking about how much they love their beds, as well as the emotional reactions they provoke.
The reader of this book reads newspapers like the Times, Independent and Telegraph; she may not have time for copious amounts of reading, and she likes to dip into a witty, edgy, good-looking book that makes her think about her motivations and desires.
She is almost certainly well-travelled and interested in other cultures and lifestyles. She will be attracted to psychology. She has a well paid job, possibly within the creative or lifestyle industry, and would take pleasure in the look and feel of this book’s sensuous, textured cover resembling a lusciously decadent unmade bed and value it as a stylish addition to her home.
I would expect my women readers to enjoy magazines like Tatler, Vogue and World of Interiors, as well as the Sundays, and enjoy TV programmes about historical and royal scandals such as those presented by Lucy Worsley. They may also read articles on psychology and human behaviour.
Though there are numerous books about sex, history and human nature, these female readers would appreciate one that deals with all of these subjects in a quirky, quixotic yet perceptive fashion.
This is a good time for such a book because, as the increase of accessible history programmes on TV demonstrates, the public have a growing appetite for factual stories about how people lived and continue to live, and how this relates to them. It will give the reader an opportunity to reexamine the everyday world around her, which she might currently take for granted. It should also motivate her to reevaluate her past and present, and the important events that have happened in her bed from her earliest memories.
In addition to the individual readership to which this book would appeal, I believe it would be of global interest to 5-star and upward hotels based internationally, and high-end bed and bed-linen manufacturers.
My Overall Approach
The focus of all my promotion and publicity is to create a buzz around the idea that Sex, Status and Sanctuary: 69 Beds and What They Say About You takes you into a world which, though it seems strangely familiar, is at the same time sexy and edgy, and relates to each and every one of us on a visceral level. Beds is an obviously sexy subject and one that has the potential of big audiences. My aim is to become the definitive, global voice on quirky, sexy history as it relates to us all. To that end, I have a follow-up title in progress about how our attitude to privacy as it relates to sex, going to the toilet and anything involving getting naked has developed over the centuries. I see the mileage for these titillating subjects as international, with the promotional campaign targeted not just to a home market, but also to the US and Europe. I also see scope for TV adaptation.
I have a background in PR (I worked as PR manager for a firm of London-based architects in the 1990s and have considerable experience in successful self-promotion strategies leading to appearances on TV – SKY and Discovery – and radio – Midweek, Radio 4). The book is deliberately structured to be publicity-friendly. I want to create an interactive section at the back of the book encouraging readers to contact my website and tell me about their experiences with, and observations on, beds, especially what their bed means to them, as well as any weird or awesome beds they have come across.
The key messages I want to convey in promoting my book are:
• Though great strides have been made in making history more contemporary and titillating, there is more work to be done. History is a sexy subject and I want to bring this out. Because it’s fun and because it’s effectively about us. The sexiest elements of history concern private life - especially when it is disastrous, the disfunctional figure is a toff or a royal, and turns out to be as mixed-up as we are. We enjoy the fact that the same destructive, self-obsessed, petty preoccupations and obsessions govern people now as they did in the past.This narrows the gulf between us and them.
• I have taken a unique journey – in terms of historical research, tuition, journalism and all my different career forks – which has influenced the way I write my history books. As a result, my approach is fresh, quirky and firmly linked to wry observations on human nature - especially its sillier aspects. This informs my determination to write books that entertain and amuse as they teach and inform.
• The combination of my theatrical, journalistic, research and writing background gives me solid credentials for a book such as Sex, Status and Sanctuary: The Inside Story of You and Your Bed, as illustrated by the lively vignettes in the book.
Sales and Marketing
• Creating a pre-order bundle
• Effecting direct sales via my business and contacts – I will market my book direct to my tuition clientele, and my networking colleagues. This will also help to spread the sale of the book by word-of-mouth
* Approaching a number of local bookshops (and lifestyle shops) with a view to giving talks, doing book signings and obtaining direct sales
As someone who has previously been involved with PR, and been successful at it, I know what it entails and love doing it. I am vey excited about getting on board in every kind of publicity-generating vehicle to promote myself and my book. I am good in front of the camera, used to giving talks and interviews, and can write engaging copy. With my theatrical background, I am a confident performer. I have been talking to a networking colleague Richard Harvey of Richard Harvey PR Ltd, who is helping me to formulate a PR strategy. What follows is the plan, but, naturally, new ideas and suggestions can be mooted so that the publisher and I can work on this as one consolidated force. It is thus a work-in-progress which I can add to and revise as I continue to hone the strategy and move forward. Given my experience, energy and enthusiasm to market the book every which way, I am confident that I have a solid and growing foundation upon which to launch Sex, Status and Sanctuary into the world.
The core elements of my plan include:
• My blog/emails/social media
• Connecting with brands which might provide sponsorship and other PR opportunities
• Press Releases
• Pitching ideas and articles to newspapers/magazines/blogs/TV
• Live speaking
My blog/emails/social media
• I have engaged a website specialist to design a website/blog and it will shortly be ready. I am also engaging an illustrator and together we will be creating blogs featuring sexy/eccentric/mad beds and fascinating snippets about them. These will be posted on social media. I aim to secure 2000 followers on Twitter, and 2000 followers on Facebook by ??? I will create an engaged community of those who enjoy edgy history.
• I aim to post 4-5 tweets a day and reach out to 2-3 people a day.
• In the run-up to the launch of Sex, Status and Sanctuary, the tweets and posts will consist of snippets and teasers from the book (and from my extensive research), to whet the appetite for pre-orders and for launch-day.
Connections with brands
• A number of the featured beds are contemporary and at the very high-end of the market. I have previously approached a major bed manufacturer and they have expressed interest in getting involved in the publication in return for exposure. It would be worthwhile to follow up on such relationships. It would also be sensible to contact other high-end bed manufactures and bed-linen manufacturers, not just in relation to the possibility of sponsorship, but also in connection with the potential for mutually-beneficial publicity-generating events.
Pitching to TV and Radio
• I will pitch myself to TV on an ad hoc basis to include shows such as This Morning, Good Morning Britain, Loose Women, The One Show etc. On Radio, I would like to target Steve Wright in the Afternoon (Radio 2) and Loose Ends (Radio 4) and Jeremy Vine (Radio 2). This is an essential element of my PR campaign because it will provide my campaign with mass exposure.
• Press releases should be distributed to editors of history and interior magazines, daily quality broadsheets and weekend print media, perhaps using the angle: ‘What does your bed say about you?” Techno-obsessed, cocoa and slippers, cougar, playboy, duvet diva etc. They should make clear that I am available for shoots and interviews. I have a track-record in successful press releases; for instance, persuading Sunday Times Home to print a double-page spread on beds.
• Print media: I will pitch to all mainstream newspapers and colour supplement magazines, and other relevant magazines including – but not limited to – History, Vogue, Tatler, Vanity Fair, World of Interiors, House and Garden, Home and Garden, Harpers & Queen, GQ etc
• For online, I will pitch to Express Online, Mail Online, Telegraph Online, Guardian Online, Independent.co.uk, Huffington Post and all high-end bed manufacturing and bed-linen manufacturing sites. I will measure success by the number of interviews, article commissions and features I obtain.
Live speaking opportunities
• I have already begun doing speaking events on this subject in an effort to gauge and stimulate interest.
• I aim to pitch to a number of book and arts festivals round the UK and the US. This will put me in front of large numbers of potential book buyers. I have links with local arts festivals in East Sussex and Kent which I will pursue. This is a key element of my PR strategy.
Sex, Status and Sanctuary belongs in the Lifestyle/Sex section of a bookstore. Most of the books that have been written on the subject of beds thus far focus on interior design, are overly scholarly in tone and content for today’s readership, are highly illustrated with not many words, or were published to accompany an exhibition or by a heritage group to showcase a limited collection of beds. Here are the books that I have researched while writing mine, in order to evaluate the competition.
Beds, Reginald Reynolds (Andre Deutsch, 1952). This is the first book to provide a comprehensive look at beds through the ages. Its style is academic. Modern readers would find the book rather turgid, though it provides a wealth of fascinating information on our use of beds.
The Philosophy of the Bed, Mary Eden and Richard Carrington, (Hutchinson, 1961). Again, there are some fascinating snippets (and photographs) about beds but the dated style makes for a difficult read in the 21st century. It naturally only goes up to the sixties.
On Going to Bed, Anthony Burgess, (Andre Deutsch, 1982), is a highly personalised account by the best-selling author of his experience with beds. It is heavily illustrated and provides a highly personal take on one man’s relationship with his bed, targeted specifically at Burgess fans.
The Bed, Alecia Beldegreen, (Stewart, Tabori & Chang), 1991. This is a beautiful book with some gorgeous photographs of stylish beds. There is not much text and it is aimed more at interior design devotees. It also has a very feminine quality which my book does not.
Reves d’Alcoves: la chambre au cours des siecles, (Musee des Arts, Paris, 1995). This stunningly illustrated catalogue accompanied the museum’s exhibition of bedrooms. It contains fascinating information but is limited to Europe.
The Embedded Metaphor, Nina Felstein, (Independent Curators Incorporated, New York, 1996). As with the previous publication, this slender catalogue accompanied an exhibition of bedroom installation art. It is eclusively devoted to exploring modern artists’ use of the bed as a means of self-expression.
And So To Bed, Margaret Willis, (National Trust, 1998). This is a tiny book limited to some of the beds in the NT collection.
Going to Bed, Naomi Tarrant, (National Museums of Scotland Publishing, 1998). This is another tiny book which addresses Scots beds only.
Sleeping Around: The Bed from Antiquity to Now, Annie Carlano & Bobbie Somberg, (Museum of International Folk Art, 2006). This is the most recent publication on beds and was printed to accompany a muse
um of mainly bed textiles. It is image-rich, contains interesting facts on beds, but has an exclusively American flavour.
Sex, Status and Sanctuary is different from any of the above publications because it is a contemporary take on our convoluted relationship with the bed and what that says about us. It is not image-dense, nor is it over-wordy. My book is more of a niche publication which is sexy, witty, informative and highly revealing about what makes us tick. My approach has been to show how our exploitation of this hum-drum object is an indicator of the passions and preoccupations (not all of them healthy) that lie beneath the surface.
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Sex, Status and Sanctuary
‘The bed, my friend, is our whole life.’
From by Guy de Maupassant, 1882
This precious book in whose sheets you are now luxuriating is the result of an exciting ten-year romp through the beds of past, present and future, as well as the beds of the celebrated, the notorious and the completely deranged. It draws back the covers to expose that if our sleeping spaces witness moments of the deepest intimacy and vulnerability, these supposedly private productions have often attracted a public audience.
Invested with such intimate qualities, the bed is so much more than a stage for sleep, birth, consummation, conception and death; it’s an emotionally-charged object evoking a myriad of complex associations. The 69 beds I have chosen to showcase illustrate the profound nature of this convoluted relationship. They also highlight the bed’s pedigree as a sanctuary of myth and mystery enshrouding many secrets.
The eye-popping secrets that lie between the sheets of this sensuous book will surprise, shock and seduce you. Even the most travelled minds will find them fascinating. An eclectic parade, it reveals that during the last 9,500 years, from Neolithic Turkey to Versailles, Ancient Egypt to the Raj, Stratford-on-Avon to twenty-first-century LA , through a clutch of social, sexual, artistic and industrial revolutions, plus a handful of wars, beds reflect the full panoply of human emotions, values, beliefs and aspirations. The bed is politics, power and propaganda. It is also status, fame and family feuds.
Frequently the progeny of industrial, technological, engineering or artistic genius, the bed has been exploited as a murder weapon, a shrine, a throne, a networking base, a memorial, a live TV set, a status symbol, a dining club, an art installation – and even a flag for feminism. And then, of course, there is sex. The archetypal link between bed and bonking is built into our language and into our psyches.
The cornucopia of treats which which I could whet your appetite is endless, but let me pluck from the plump pillows of these pages some of of the more hair-raising highlights. The Marquess of Bath’s hand-carved babe-magnet with tiny compartments housing the flags of each of his 70-plus ‘wifelets’; Elvis Presley’s cheeseburger bed honouring his devotion to American cuisine; the exorbitantly-priced electrical bed marketed in the 1750s to heal impotency and infertility, and patronised by the promiscuous Prince of Wales; John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s bed-protest against the Vietnam War; a ten-foot four-poster immortalized by the Bard of Avon hosting sixteenth-century orgies in a Hertfordshire tavern. In the course of this magic duvet ride, not only will you bedhop through history, you will also bunk up with a motley crew of bedfellows; from Shakespeare to David Beckham; Louis XIV to Madonna; Napoleon to Tracey Emin; Henry VIII to Hugh Hefner; Emma Hamilton to Kanye West.
Sex, Status and Sanctuary is a rich, complex, astonishing story set in some of the world’s most exotic and bizarre locations and starring a colourful, often eccentric array of characters. The story needs telling for what it divulges about us and our most secret selves: what preoccupies us; what motivates us; what makes us tick. The French gastronome Jean-Antheime Brillat-Savarin once said, ‘Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are.’ Though that may be true, the bed is much more revealing.
Bed Number 10
‘More money has been lavished on beds than any other item of furniture’
John Bernasconi, 1978
At first glance, Jan Van Eyck’s bijou portrait of Giovanni Arolfini and his wife Giovanna Cenami looks like an intimate scene shot during a 1434 episode of Through the Keyhole. In reality, the room probably never existed, meaning the whole thing was a studio-set-up. To add to the enigma, we don’t even know if the woman is in fact Giovanna; she died before the painting was executed. What we do know is that this is the Northern Renaissance equivalent of Keeping up with the Kardashians. It’s all about bling. Just take a look at the objects carefully chosen to ooze the Arnolfinis’ wealth and status. Oranges were prohibitively dear in the fifteenth century; having them on show signified the owner was dripping in guilders. Just as A Listers hire a Prada dress for the red carpet, Giovanna’s chartreuse frock, edged in over 2000 squirrel skins, is so voluminous, it would have used up more than 35 metres of fabric. Turkey rugs, like the one on the floor, cost an arm and a leg, and were too highly prized to be placed on the ground; convex mirrors, window-glass and chandeliers were only accessible to the super-rich. And finally the best bling of all: the bed. Costing the equivalent of a custom-made Aston Martin, and carrying just as much kudos, it was placed in the front room and never slept in it, while the owner stood by listening to his guests gasp with envy. So, though we don’t know whether there’s anything authentic about this painting, we can at least be sure that the Renaissance bed - to be paraded before visitors - was the most potent symbol of rank and riches. It would hold that clout for over 300 years.
Bed Number 48
‘[Lord Bath is] positively swarming with women who are queuing up to share his bed’
Nesta Wyn Ellis, The Marquess of Bath: Lord of Love, 2010
For many years, Alexander George Thynn, the 7t Marquess of Bath, has courted notoriety for his polygamist Bohemian lifestyle and sizeable harem. The ‘Lord of Loins’ – so named because of his carnal appetites and the safari park he opened some fifty-two years ago – admits to believing in the subordinate status of women and their role as sexual playthings. At the last count, the Marquess – now in his mid-80s – is (allegedly) believed to have retained around seventy of these bedmates, who take it in turns to pay him a visit. When they quarrel over who should share his bed, Lord Bath – no friend to feminists - is said to be delighted; the women’s squabbles, he argues, demonstrate their reverence to their lord and master. In 2000, Bath – in keeping with his chauvinistic leanings - commissioned a cabinet-maker to construct a bed befitting a man with over seventy concubines. On each side of the headboard the Marquess commanded two pyramidically-shaped cylinders in place of posts, on which intricately carved doors open to reveal an individual flag corresponding to each paramour. Rather like the Queen at Buckingham Palace, when a particular ‘wifelet’ is in residence at Longleat, her flag is hoisted above the bed. The chamber, in which the bed was originally placed, was appropriately decorated with the marquess’s murals of the Karma Sutra.
Bed Number 64
‘[My bed] is an art piece and it shall be taken as such’
Kanye West speaking about his bed installation to accompany the release of Famous, June 2016
On 27 June 2016, the world awoke to find a nightmare had become reality: an 8-minute video of a nude Donald Trump in bed trending on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. What was going on? Hadn’t the world already seen enough of Trump? Could it really stomach yet another revelation of the misogamist’s sexual shenanigans? Rapper Kanye West was launching his new song Famous, and his overworked imagination had come up with a racy promotional video featuring a nudist celebrity sleepover. Nominated for Best Rap/Sung Performance and Best Rap Song at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards, West wants to be taken seriously as an artist producing serious work and this is a prime example: a parade of wax figures and live naked bodies sprawled out in a bed exposing private parts of their anatomy. In a vast bed dressed in an enormous chalk-white sheet, politicians Donald Trump and George W Bush recline alongside Vogue editor Anna Wintour, singers Rihanna and Taylor Swift, and celebrities Amber Rose, Caitlyn Jenner and Bill Cosby. Stealing a march on Alfred Hitchcock, who always enjoyed a cameo role in his movies, here the artist takes centre-stage, reposing in the middle of his bed-guests, alongside his wife Kim Kardashian’s gravity-defying bottom. Some have claimed that the video is no more than a gimmick to help boost record sales; a reflection of celebrity self-absorption and a relentless quest for attention. For others, the equally pertinent question remains: is it art?
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