Compiled by Mark Storey
There has long been a need for a thorough reference list for serious students and researchers interested in naturism, or nudism. Scholars seem always to go to the same limited sources time and again, seemingly unaware of the hundreds of books, booklets, pamphlets, and academic journal articles (not to mention the countless nudist magazines and videos) able to provide insight into various aspects of the culture of non-sexualized social nudity. I’ve attempted to collect and read as many popular and scholarly works on nudism that I can find, and the bibliography below is one product of that endeavor.
The following reference list contains printed works in English that range from studies about nudism by non-nudist scholars to unbridled propaganda by nudists with little concern for even-handed objectivity. Some items approach nudism obliquely in the context of nudity in sexual relations, travel, art, religion, or media. Many authors defend nudism, its values, and way of life; others claim merely to describe it; an interesting few challenge it on moral, social, or religious grounds.
North American organized nudism began in the early 1930s in the New York area. Groups appreciating an element of clothes-freedom prospered elsewhere in earlier decades, but club nudism boomed in the 1930s and has morphed into various forms of organized and not-so-organized naked folk since then. The books below illustrate that historical pattern, as writers of fiction and non-fiction speculated about clothes-free life. Once nudism arose as a well-publicized phenomenon in the 1930s, it provided grist for writers of every sort—novelists, playwrights, poets, cartoonists, scriptwriters, pornographers, scholars, newspaper columnists, humorists, and essayists—as society mulled over whether nudists were caught up in a fad, a money-grabbing “racket,” a health movement, immoral debauchery, or a return to Edenic, body-friendly sanity.
What the TNSF Naturist Bibliography aims to include are English-language print resources that can assist research on nudism and its advocates’ practices and views. Not included are the many naturist travel guidebooks that repeatedly go into new editions (e.g., those produced by Lee Baxandall, Phil Vallack, David Martin, Dave Patrick, Phil Owensby, Michael Boyd, TNS, Lifestyle Press, the American Association for Nude Recreation, the Federation of Canadian Naturists, and the International Naturist Federation). Also not included are books addressing nudity as associated primarily with sexuality, art, bathing, or religion. Such books are countless in number. That said, it’s a judgment call whether to include certain items. My overriding goal is to provide a list of works that can assist serious researchers interested in various aspects of non-sexualized social nudity.
Selecting fictional works presents further challenges. Protagonists in science fiction and fantasy novels, for instance, often find themselves among naked societies, and a case could be made that such works (e.g., by Robert A. Heinlein) should be included. Countless other works of fiction make a side remark about social nudity or insert a scene highlighting a body-confident figure, but do little to provide any insight into the views of those for or against nudism. The vast majority of fictional works listed below have at least relatively substantial comment on social nudity, and often have it as one of its main themes or the primary setting.
The TNS Naturist Bibliography begins with “Top 10” and “Top 20” lists, directing readers to what I believe to be the 10 most useful books written in the earliest years of organized nudism, and the 20 most useful books written since then. The lists are open to debate, surely, but those who have read most of the 240-plus books in the non-fiction section will likely agree that the choices are not too far off the mark. If inquirers wish to read the bare minimum to be informatively conversant about nudism, I recommend Cec Cinder’s The Nudist Idea (if I owned only one book about nudism, this would be it), William Hartman et al’s Nudist Society, Frances and Mason Merrill’s Among the Nudists, and Donald Johnson’s The Nudists. You’ll know precious little about the majority of naked folk who primarily enjoy nude beaches or hot springs, but you’ll get a solid introduction to the opening decades of organized nudism as it’s been experienced in North America and Europe. I welcome comments and suggestions for expanding this TNS Naturist Bibliography. The Naturist Society hopes the information will be of use to many.
TNS Naturist Bibliography updated: March 2012