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mummy porn

noun informal [uncountable]

novels which are written for women and have sexual themes and descriptions

'There will be steamy goings-on at Swansea Library today when visitors will be treated to some erotic fiction extracts. The readings have been set up to capitalise on the success of the E. L. James mummy porn blockbuster Fifty Shades Of Grey, with readers encouraged to broaden their tastes from there.'

This is South Wales 15th November 2012

Chocolates, jewellery, perfume … many of us will be popping these classic gifts for our female loved ones under the tree this Christmas (and I, for one, would be more than happy to receive any of them!). But if you're looking for alternative ideas this Christmas, then you might consider jumping on the literary bandwagon and purchasing some mummy porn. Before more reserved readers gasp in shock, I should point out that what I'm referring to isn't confined to the top shelf of a seedy newsagents, but freely available at any mainstream online or bricks-and-mortar book store, as prominent in the festive gift stakes as travelogues by Michael Palin or cookery collections by Nigella …

what's also interesting is that the novel has had so much public exposure that its title is beginning to take on a life of its own in the English-speaking world

The expression mummy porn popped up in 2012 as an informal way of referring to an emerging literary genre of novels with erotic themes which are designed to appeal specifically to middle-aged women. The concept was kick-started by the novel Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James, which describes an affair between fictional characters Christian Grey, a young entrepreneur, and Anastasia Steele, a 22 year-old student. The novel, first published in June 2011, has sold more than 50 million copies worldwide, outstripping even J K Rowling's Harry Potter tales and Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code in the rate of paperback sales this summer.

The novel has had mixed reviews but, love it or loathe it, there's no doubt that it's been responsible for crystallizing a new literary concept, the term mummy porn entering various online dictionaries and even recently being considered by Oxford University Press as a candidate for its 'Word of the Year' (in the end mummy porn was pipped to the post by omnishambles, the light-hearted, politically-charged reference to ineffectual performance). What's also interesting is that the novel has had so much public exposure that its title is beginning to take on a life of its own in the English-speaking world, there now being evidence for fifty shades of … word play in a range of literary contexts and across the media. The examples are too numerous to list, but include things like Fifty shades of Lloyds – the debut novel of a former insurance broker; fifty shades of green, in the context of horticultural or ecological issues; fifty shades of red, as a tongue-in-cheek reference to China; and the self-explanatory fifty shades of gay.

Background – mummy porn

The expression mummy porn is new in 2012, its coinage directly linked to the massive popularity of the E. L. James novel. The use of mummy is presumably inspired by the fact that this type of novel appeals mostly to middle-aged rather than younger women, women who are therefore more likely to be 'mothers'. Porn is of course short for the word pornography (images intended to give sexual excitement), and the expression's success lies partly in the shock factor associated with this word, which usually has rather negative, risqué overtones.

Taking inspiration from the expressions chick lit and lad lit, informal ways of referring to novels aimed at women/young men, a spin off of mummy porn has inspired the coinage gran lit, which refers to romantic literature designed to appeal to women in their 'autumn' years. Other literary coinages that have emerged in recent years include foodoir, a kind of diary or biography with a focus on cookery and recipes, and fanfic (or fan fiction), stories featuring characters and settings from books or TV programmes which have been written by fans and not by the original author. The novel Fifty Shades of Grey was in fact developed from fanfic inspired by Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series.

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

Last week …

Read last week's BuzzWord. Fiscal cliff.

This article was first published on 18th December 2012.

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jones

a compulsive desire for something; an addiction to something

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