FANNY & STELLA: The Pioneer Transvestites of Victorian London
with Neil McKenna
Thursday 2nd July 2015
Doors open at 6:30 pm, Talk commences at 7:00 pm
Long before the word transvestite had been coined, and almost a quarter of a century before Oscar Wilde was convicted of gross indecency, two young men who shared a penchant for dressing in ladies' clothes were awaiting trial for sodomy in the criminal dock at the Court of Queen’s Bench in London. The case of the He-She ladies became a front-page fixture in the press as Fanny and Stella turned into Victorian household names. In court, they faced a rising tide of Victorian prudisness but both bravely stood their ground in a case they hoped would instigate eventual legal reform of the vicious anti-gay laws of the times.
In his talk, Neil McKenna reconstructs the fascinating story of two men who deserve to be commemorated as ranking among the country's earliest activists for gay rights.
Please note this talk includes a startling expose of the
underbelly of 19th century London that can be found camp, instructive, tragic and comic by turns.
Neil McKenna is a journalist and writer who has written for the Independent, the Observer, the Guardian, the New Statesman and Channel 4. His biography The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde was a critical and a commercial success. His latest book is Fanny & Stella, a tale of cross-dressing centred around a trial that shook Victorian England.
Tickets £15 including a glass of prosecco. Please click here to buy.