As part of another project I’ve on the go at the moment I was recently reading Peter Scott-Presland‘s ‘official’ history of the CHE (Campaign for Homosexual Equality), ‘Amiable Warriors’* , and stumbled across a reference to a tasty sounding tome by Roger Baker, ‘Drag: A History of Female Impersonation on the Stage’, and through the magic of ebay, I now possess a copy. Happy days!
While I haven’t had chance to read it yet, a glance though it reveals a fairly extensive history going back to the middle ages and touching on Chevalier D’eon, Shakespeare, Japanese theatre, Victorian music hall cross-dressers and bringing us up to date with the current scene (i.e. 1968) with such celebrities as Danny La Rue. Fascinating both for the history of this art form as well as the contemporary view.
The second book this week is ‘Saltwater‘ by Jessica Andrews, a piece of fiction which, I hope, will bring to the fore how it feels to be working class in a place which is a world away:
‘When Lucy wins a place at university she thinks London will unlock her future. It is a city alive with pop up bars, cool girls and neon lights illuminating the Thames at night. At least this is what Lucy expects, having grown up in working-class Sunderland…
Yet Lucy’s transition to a new life is more overwhelming than expected. As she works long shifts to make ends meet and navigates chaotic parties from East London warehouses to South Kensington mansions, she still feels like an outsider among her fellow students. When things come to a head at her graduation, Lucy takes off for Ireland, seeking solace in her late grandfather’s cottage and the wild landscape that surrounds it, wondering if she can piece together who she really is.’
*This is as complete a history as we are ever likely to get of this important group who paved the way for the 1967 ‘legalisation’ of male homosexuality in England and Wales, and it is astounding in its depth and breadth: if you consider yourself a scholar of LGBT history this book MUST be read. (And it is, apparently, only the first volume – I can’t wait for the second!).