As everybody knows, oysters are the ultimate aphrodisiac. Casanova famously ate 50 raw oysters every morning with his mistress of the moment, in a bathtub designed for two. As well as an aphrodisiac, since the earliest times, the oyster has been an inspiration to philosophers, artists, poets, chefs, gourmets, epicures and jewelers. It has been pursued by poachers and thieves, and defended by police, and Acts of Parliament. In this book, literary historian and radio broadcaster Rebecca Stott gathers together the extraordinary history of the oyster and its pearl. She shows how this curious creature has been used and depicted in human culture, and what it has variously meant to those who either love or loathe it.