Betsy Prioleau

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Betsy Prioleau
Occupation Author
Language English
Alma mater University of Virginia
Duke University
Genre Cultural history, seduction

Betsy Prioleau is an American author, radio personality, and cultural historian. Prioleau is most known for writing Swoon: Great Seducers and Why Women Love Them and Seductress: Women Who Ravished the World and Their Lost Art of Love.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Prioleau was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia.[2] She graduated from the University of Virginia with a B.S. and M.A. in English and received a Ph.D. in American Literature at Duke University.[3][4]


After completing her Ph.D., she taught English and World Literature at Manhattan College where she was an associate tenured professor. She then taught cultural history at New York University Liberal Studies Program.[5] Prioleau regularly appears on radio shows as an expert on seduction and related topics.[6][7] She was the co-host of Errol Gluck's popular podcast, GluckRadio from 2013 to 2014 until she left the show to pursue a writing project.


Prioleau has written essays, scholarly articles, and three books. Proleau's first book was titled Circle of Eros: Sexuality in the Work of William Dean Howells. In 2003, she wrote Seductress: Women Who Ravished the World and Their Lost Art of Love. Her latest book is titled Swoon: Great Seducers and Why Women Love Them, which she released in 2013.

The Circle of Eros[edit]

The Circle of Eros: Sexuality in the Work of William Dean Howells is a study of the nineteenth-century American author and editor William Dean Howells. The book discusses the sexual themes in his novels, essays, and autobiographies, and shows how he arrived at a positive view of erotic love.[8]


Prioleau published Seductress: Women Who Ravished the World and Their Lost Art of Love in 2003. The book re-examines seductresses, refutes the negative stereotypes, and portrays the lives of such women as Cleopatra, Lola Montez, and Mae West as well as modern women. The book also gives romantic advice to women.[9]

The book received positive reviews.[10] Publishers Weekly wrote that "whether one buys her argument or not, [Seductress is] wildly engaging reading and faultless scholarship.[11] The New York Times wrote that "in this glossy, steam-heated analysis of temptresses and their tactics, no historical chapter is too obscure to provide inspiration."[12]


Swoon: Great Seducers and Why Women Love Them is a non-fiction book which analyses what makes a man attractive to women. Prioleau uses biographies, fiction, and science to discuss the secrets of men throughout the history and today that make them great lovers.[13][14] On the whole, the book was well received. Jonathan Yardley reviewed the book negatively and wrote that it is "a breezy, once-over-lightly book about sex."[2] Library Journal wrote that, "with exceptional vocabulary and bright prose, Prioleau offers a thoroughly researched, irresistible look at the characteristics of historical and contemporary seducers."[15] Kirkus Reviews called the book, "A fun, frothy complement to cultural historian Prioleau’s Seductress: Women Who Ravished the World."[16]


Personal life[edit]

She is married to Phillip Prioleau, a New York City dermatologist.[17]


  1. ^ "Ten Minutes With Betsy Prioleau". Town Vibe. Retrieved 11 July 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "‘Swoon: Great Seducers and Why Women Love Them’ by Betsy Prioleau". Washington Post. 
  3. ^ "Betsy Prioleau". WW Norton. Retrieved 6 July 2014. 
  4. ^ "BOOKS: SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2004". Duke Magazine. Retrieved 18 July 2014. 
  5. ^ "Angel Effect, Successful Swooners, Bad Company to Good, Uncle Al (Capone), and Shopping Smarter!". PRX. 
  6. ^ "Seduce Me - Betsy Prioleau". To The Best of Our Knowledge. Retrieved 21 July 2014. 
  7. ^ "Creating a New Normal in Relationship". Retrieved 21 July 2014. 
  8. ^ "The Circle of Eros: Sexuality in the Work of William Dean Howells". JSTOR. Retrieved 20 July 2014. 
  9. ^ "BETSEY PRIOLEAU". Book Page. Retrieved 10 July 2014. 
  10. ^ "'Swoon,' Betsy Prioleau's book about Casanovas, can't get past first base". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 4 July 2014. 
  11. ^ "SEDUCTRESS: Women Who Ravished the World and Their Lost Art of Love". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 13 July 2014. 
  12. ^ "BOOKS OF THE TIMES; Stop Purring, Ladies, and Pounce". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 July 2014. 
  13. ^ "VIRGINIA THIS MORNING: Author Betsy Prioleau". CBS 6. Retrieved 11 July 2014. 
  14. ^ "Book Review: Swoon by Betsy Prioleau". Seattle Post Intelligencer. Retrieved 4 July 2014. 
  15. ^ "Social Sciences Reviews". Library Journal. February 15, 2013. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  16. ^ "SWOON". Kirkus Reviews. 
  17. ^ "Tuesday lunches are an exercise in nostalgia". Spectator. Retrieved 16 July 2014. 

External links[edit]