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In the biblical story of Adam and Eve, nudity represents innocence, and clothing represents shame. This is the basic philosophy of nudism. It was taken up by some groups of Christian radicals in the 1700s, who frequently stripped off as a ‘sign’ of their innocent soul.

In the late 1700s nudity came to be linked with hygiene. Doctors advised people to ‘bathe’ their bodies in the ‘vital’ elements of the air, sun and water. Water bathing became a popular leisure activity and air and sun bathing was turned into a ‘nature cure’ therapy. The first nature cure ‘sanatoriums’ were opened in the mid-1800s. People lived in open-air ‘huts’, and ‘bathed’ naked in the sun, or even in the snow. Sunlight and fresh air were used in an effort to treat tuberculosis (TB) patients in open-air hospitals.

In the first decades of the 1900s, ‘naturism’ and the ‘pagan’ worship of the body became popular. Thousands of people practised nude sunbathing during the 1930s. Sunbathing societies, with nudist camp sites in the country, were opened throughout Europe and America, and were very popular at weekends. In the 1960s ‘topless’ sunbathing became fashionable and nude beaches were introduced.



P Ableman, Anatomy of Nakedness (London: Orbis Publishing Ltd, 1982)

D Morris, The Naked Ape Trilogy (London: Jonathan Cape, 1994)

G R Scott, The Common Sense of Nudism (London: T W Laurie, 1934)



An infectious disease that is caused by a bacterium first identified by Robert Koch in 1882. The disease usually affects the lungs first, and is accompanied by a chronic cough.