The Historians magazine: The LGBTQ+ Edition 6

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Disablity and LGBT history

How the Bloomsbury group changed sociey forever

By Daisy Holder

By Georgina Dorothy

18-19 The hidden history of Hans Scholl By Natasha Tidd

20-21 - Find out about Bletchely Park and Alan Turing 17 - An exciting update from Queer Britain Plus ... stories on Edward II, Section 28, The Lollard Knights and more

A note from the Editors Edition 6 has probably been one of my favourite editions so far, I’ve discovered so many amazing stories that I would have never heard of if we hadn’t decided to focus on LGBTQ+ History month.

It’s so important as historians that we do make time for topics such as LGBT history. History is an inclusive topic and if we don’t look at history that has been largely hidden from us, we are then not including everyone in the discussion. You’ll see from the articles in this magazine that LGBT history is hugely important, and we are barely even scraping the surface of brilliant people and events in the LGBTQ+ community that should be talked about, as we couldn’t fit any more in if we tried! (Maybe this was the opportunity for the 100 page special ...) Hope you all enjoy! Rosie Founder and Editor

Edition 6 is arguably our most important edition to date. We really tried to shed light on an area of history that until recently, has been almost completely ignored. Throughout history, the accomplishments, sacrifices and suffering of the LGBTQ+ community have often gone unnoticed or adapted to better fit a narrative but in Edition 6, we hope the stories we shared, prove that LGBTQ+ history is tremendously important. As always, than you to everyone who contributed to this edition and we really hope you enjoy this one! 2022 is set to be our best year yet, with some really exciting editions out late this year. Chris Assistant Editor

The Rykener Case: Gender and Sex in fourteenth century England By Rachel McGlone


n December 1394, John Britby, on a visit to London from Yorkshire, approached a woman on Cheapside. After a short negotiation, she agreed to have sex with him in exchange for money. The two removed to a side alley, where they were then arrested by the authorities for “committing that detestable unmentionable and ignominious vice” – presumably, sodomy. The problem was not that the woman was a sex worker – this was a valid way to earn a living in a medieval city for a woman. The problem was that the woman was, biologically, a man. The story of Eleanor Rykener (born John), was only uncovered in the 1990s after a re-translation of the London Plea and Memoranda Rolls (the civic records of Medieval London). Previous translations of the folios had only summarised the contents, rather than exposing the full details. In the account, Britby confessed to having fully believed Rykener to be a woman, hence the approach and commission for employment. Rykener then tells of their journey



into dressing as a woman, and how they were trained as a sex worker. The testament continues with Rykener describing their employment in Oxford the previous summer, where they worked parttime as an embroideress, the other half of their time serving both men and women for sexual labour. Clients ranged from nobility and foreign dignitaries, to priests, monks, and nuns. Rykener even noted a preference to working with the clergy, as they paid more! We do not have the records for the outcome of the trial, but the account is unusual in several ways itself. First, crimes of a sexual nature, especially sodomy, were usually prosecuted by the church, whereas these were civic records. This would imply that this case was larger than that of sexual deviance – perhaps as a way of uncovering church corruption itself, as Rykener lists many clergy among their clientele. We also do not have the corresponding church records for this time period, so we cannot clarify if the case was doubly prosecuted. Secondly, throughout the account, the Latin linguistically refers to Rykener as feminine. The issue the church had with sodomy was that the sexual act between two men feminised the passive participant. If Rykener, linguistically, was seen as a woman there would have been no case to prosecute for the feminisation of the act. The term “prostitution” in medieval Latin has only female conjunctives, and sex work was also a purely feminine employment. It was also not a criminal offence. As established in the account, outwardly Rykener dressed and acted as a woman. As their employment as a sex worker was not illegal, they could not have been detained on those grounds. But in identifying and presenting oneself as feminine, would the church even have had a case for sodomy if it had been brought to trial? Thirdly, Rykener details sexual encounters with both men and women. This is the only record of same-sex partnerships in Medieval England, so we cannot draw conclusions of a trend for wider society. That their client list was so extensive, though, could be indicative of much more flexible

attitudes to sex and gender in the fourteenth century than originally imagined. It is difficult to apply our modern terminology to people in history, as they would never have used the same words to describe themselves. Today, we would err towards calling Rykener a bisexual, transgender woman or, at the very least, genderfluid. What we can conclude, however, was that Rykener felt comfortable enough in society to actively express themself in this fashion, in one of the most intimate industries – and was fairly successful at it. Eleanor Rykener gives us an insight into what medieval attitudes and sex may actually have been like to the commonality, in all its flexibility and diversity.

A copy of the documents re-translated in the 1990’s.

See more from Rachel: @bookishhistorian

Section 28 By Ollie Green


ome claim that the 1980s in Britain marked the beginning of a regression in attitudes and a backwards step in society. Amidst this the LGBTQ+ people of the UK were loudly demanding equality. Part of the Conservative Government’s response to this was the introduction of Section 28. Section 28 was a series of laws across Britain that prohibited the “promotion of homosexuality” by local authorities and more specifically the promotion of homosexuality in schools. Section 28 was introduced by Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative Government, and it was in effect from 1988 to 2003. The Government pushed this set of laws at it aligned with the Party’s view that conventional family values and Christian beliefs needed to be re-established. Section 28 saw all educational bodies banned from talking about Homosexuality in a positive way. It became illegal over night to teach students about safe sex for gay men and women, to speak openly about healthy gay relationships or to converse any mental health support that may be available. This set of laws would essentially alienate LGBTQ+ people, and lead to them feeling more and more like the “other”. One background event that allowed the passage of this legislation was the AIDS epidemic. The AIDS epidemic was publicised widely and negatively. The Mail on Sunday dubbed the AIDS virus as a ‘gay virus plague’, and The Sun ran a story headlined “I’d shoot my son if he has AIDS, Says Vicar”. This type of harmful coverage of the epidemic influenced the

electorate. In 1987, the year before the introduction of Section 28, only 11% of people thought that same sex relationships were ‘not wrong at all’, and in 1989, the year after the introduction of Section 28, this number stood at 14%. Furthermore, the Conservative Government had a mandate to enact this kind of legislation as the Party’s 1987 General Election Manifesto claimed that ‘In certain cases education [was] used for political indoctrination and sexual propaganda.’ This mandate coupled with the electorates’ clear stance on same-sex relationships tipped the balance in the Conservatives’ favour and allowed section 28 to be carried forward and passed. However, LGBTQ+ Activists did respond and make their views known. On the 23rd of May 1988, the evening before section 28 came into force, lesbian activists stormed the BBC News studio where Sue Lawley was midway through the Six O’clock News. Booan Temple, one the six who stormed the Six O’clock news later criticised British attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community and Section 28, claiming that, “I, and many of my loved ones, had been attacked in the street. There was an atmosphere that ‘the other’ needed to be eradicated and I think the LGBT community was seen as a threat to the institution of the family. Section 28 was part of that”. In 2003 under a new Labour Government under Tony Blair, Section 28 was revoked. LGBTQ+ community were finally allowed to co-exist in schools. However, the fight for equality is far from over. In recent years there have been mass protests against the teaching of same sex relationships in schools. One of the most high-profile examples of this happened in 2019 were parents who picketed school gates with anti-LGBTQ+ signage at Anderton Park primary school in Birmingham for almost eight weeks, this made national press up and down the country. Section 28 has had a lasting effect on homosexuals. An entire generation has been subliminally highlighted as a seedy, morally wrong, and shameful section of society. Throughout this period millions of students had to hide

who they are from the education system. The effect of this saw many LGBTQ+ people being forced into heterosexual relationships in adulthood. Section 28 not only had a social impact on lives of the LGBTQ+ community, it has also had severe mental health repercussions. According to Greater Manchester’s NHS Trust the LGBTQ+ community experience increased levels of common mental health problems, including depression and anxiety. Youth Chances, a social research project, identified that 52% of LGBTQ+ people self-harm, compared to 35% of heterosexual non-trans young people. Furthermore, 44% of the LGBTQ people reported suicidal thoughts, compared to 26% of heterosexual non-trans respondent. In a study by Stonewall, it was also found that 13% of LGBT people aged 18-24 attempted to take their own life in the past year The future, however, is looking bright. Schools are now able to teach inclusivity in a safe environment. ‘Inclusivity’ is now taught as part of the Government’s new ‘British Values’ curriculum. A person’s Sexuality is now categorised as a protected characteristic in law. This now means that discriminating against someone based on their sexuality is deemed as a hate crime. Section 28 is not some age-old policy that is out of living memory. I, Ollie Green am a product of Section 28. I spent my entire education journey under section 28. Leaving senior school in 2003 I knew nothing about healthy male relationships or sexual health for the LGBTQ+ community. It has shrouded my life in confusion, shame, and guilt. I am just 1 of millions that most likely feel the same. That’s the real legacy of section 28. See more from Ollie:



The Lollard Knights By Ellie Monks


hen it comes to medieval history, a time from which written records are thin on the ground, a coat of arms can be like striking gold. A noblewoman would often add her new husband’s family coat of arms to her own which is known as ‘impaling’. The best examples of this are the coats of arms of Mary, Queen of Scots, and Mary I of England after their marriages to Francis II of France and Phillip II of Spain respectively – even though looking at them can feel like looking into a kaleidoscope. Of course, marriage as we would recognise it today was legally restricted to being between a man and a woman in the medieval period. This is what makes a pair of shields found on a tomb in the Arap mosque in Istanbul so interesting. Sir William Neville and Sir John Clanvowe are buried in the mosque in a joint tomb. Whilst to many that is strange enough, what adds to the mystery is how their shields are not only leaning towards each other but are exactly the same. The shields are both impaled like a betrothed couple would appear and, even more curiously, the helmets are positioned in a way that implies the two are kissing. The pair, who were known to a part of the ‘Lollard knights’ who resided at the court of Richard II in the late fourteenth century, travelled to Tunis wanting to take part in a crusade put together by the Duke of Bourbon. Unfortunately, Clanvowe died in the fighting. According to a chronicler, Neville became so inconsolable that he refused to eat and as a result died himself only two days



later. Such inconsolable grief alongside the impaled shields could suggest that they considered themselves to be married as we would recognise today. This could be more likely than people realise, but there is room for doubt. The idea of soldiers finding physical comfort with each other is often suggested throughout the history of warfare, but given the amount of emotion which is attributed to Neville means that the story of the two knights reads as something closer to an actual relationship. This is interesting considering how such relationships were viewed not only in medieval society but by the sect of Christianity that the two knights were members of. ‘Sodomy’ was a word used for many kinds of sins including adultery, rebels, pride, and lust, it is now mostly connected to same-sex relations. The authorities of the medieval period, both ecclesiastical and governmental, are often found to be worrying about that particular type of sodomy more than the others. The second Norman king William Rufus has always been suspected of being gay, having never married and filling his court with pretty men instead much to the Archbishop Anslem’s despair. In some cases, this is hardly surprising as men socialise with each other more than they would with women due to the militaristic nature of medieval society. Two men could take oaths to create lasting bonds and if they did, they may have been referred to as ‘wed-brethren’, which historians like Peter Ackroyd have suggested could have been seen as similar to a traditional wedding than just mere friendship. However, a problem with this theory is the fact that they were Lollards. Lollardy was a type of protoProtestantism which also rejected viewing the communion as literally consuming Christ and preferred a vernacular Bible. What the Lollards also believed was that sodomy was akin to idolatry, that is the worship of idols instead of God, because they were being physically intimate (maybe) for something other than having children. Despite this belief, it may be that Sir William and Sir John were able to balance their Lollard

beliefs with their relationship. Writing the Bible in the vernacular was something that attracted many at the time. Thomas of Woodstock, duke of Gloucester and uncle to Richard II, owned an English bible and no one has ever accused him of being a Lollard. It could have been that people picked specific parts of the Lollard ways they wanted to follow. There’s precious little to completely confirm whether or not Neville and Clanvowe were in a relationship similar to marriage. But considering that neither of them married nor had families on top of being in their fifties when they died, it’s more likely they were intimately devoted to each other. This could have been made more acceptable because they were not heirs to any great estate or because they were viewed as ‘wedbrethren’ and their relationship was seen as completely platonic to those around them.

See more from Ellie: @historiansedge

Bisexual Bucaneers: LGBTQ+ during the age of Piracy By James Ryan


hen people hear the word Pirate, love is not usually the first thing that comes to mind. Indeed, pirates seem like otherworldly beings with their swashbuckling tales of violence, robbery, and debauchery. But one needs to remember that despite their almost mythical status these pirates were real people. Real people who felt love and affection. Regarding LGBTQ+ relationships among pirates, what we know is few and far between. Granted, any form of relationship that isn’t the stuff of folklore and legend is also few and far between. Pirates have this big problem called romanticism; the more people become fascinated and horrified with them, the more extravagant and taller their tales become. Even to this day, there are many gaps in pirate history that need filling; Blackbeard’s surname for instance is still very much up for debate. However, we do know a little bit about homosexual relations among 17th and 18th century pirates. During the golden ages of piracy and buccaneering, this almost exclusively male-dominated environment developed a custom called matelotage (from the French word for seamanship). Matelotage was a form of same-sex civil union among sailors in which partners

(or matelots) would share income and, in the case of a partner’s death, inherit each other’s property. It’s possible that the famous pirate term “matey” derived from these partnerships. Now, it’s important to remember that not every matelotage was out of love and affection, but it did appear to have become synonymous with LGBTQ+ relations. Perhaps the most well-known of these matelotages is that of Captains Robert Culliford and John Swann. Culliford was probably born in Cornwall around 1666. His pirate life began aboard the French privateer ship Sainte Rose; sailing alongside the notorious William Kidd. After war kicked off in Europe in 1689, Kidd, Culliford and six other British sailors mutinied and captured a French brig. A year later Culliford mutinied against Kidd, and left him stranded in Antigua (hey it’s a pirate-eat-pirate world!). It’s entirely possible that Culliford met John Swann aboard the Sainte Rose; otherwise, we do know they were imprisoned together in India before escaping together in 1696. The biggest clue to a homosexual relationship together comes from a register in the Calendar of State Papers: Colonial Series which stated that Swann was a “great consort of Culliford’s, who lives with him” on the pirate haven of Madagascar. Naturally, this could mean absolutely anything but given the context of the time, place and figures involved it clearly suggests more than just an economic partnership. Unfortunately, written agreements of matelotages are extremely rare and no other detail regarding how close or physical their relationship was, exists. What is known is that upon returning to the sea Culliford did ask Swann to join him but was turned down. After both accepted royal pardons, Swann moved to Barbados and decided not to follow Culliford anymore. Culliford and Swann’s partnership/ relationship/whatever you want to call it was just one of many matelotages that occurred throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. Of course, at the time such a relationship was against the law (but then so too was piracy). Some governments went to extreme cases to try and prevent such partnerships

from taking place. Take the Caribbean island of Tortuga. During the 1600s this French controlled island was a popular destination for seamen of the dishonourable kind. In this haven for pirates, same-sex relationships became accepted by the buccaneers who tormented Tortuga. However, they were not accepted by the island’s governor Le Vasseur. To combat this plight as he saw it, he came up with a radical idea. In 1645, Le Vasseur wrote to the French government requesting 2,000 “undesirable women” be sent to Tortuga to engage in prostitution and sway the inhabitants from homosexual desires. To Le Vasseur’s surprise, this plan did not work. For one thing, some remained in their matelotage relationships whilst marrying prostitutes at the same time! Finally, one cannot discuss LGBTQ+ pirates without mentioning the most famous power couple: Anne Bonny and Mary Read. The two women cross-dressed to live the pirate life before falling for each other. Captured and facing the death penalty, Mary died in captivity whilst Anne disappeared from records. Whilst their story is important to LGBTQ+ history, they were just one of many, many equally as moving stories from the high seas that have sadly faded away to the world’s end. It may be just a matter of time before another surfaces onto the world stage.

Follow James on Instagram at @that_tall_jacobite THE HISTORIANS MAGAZINE


KELCIS CORNER: THE HISTORY OF PRIDE 1970 The first Pride festival is held in New York, starting on Washington Square, moving up Sixth Avenue & finishing at Central Park. This march was to remember the Stonewall riots that happened in 1969. 1972 The first Pride festival is held in London on the 1st July, the nearest weekend to the anniversary of Stonewall. 2,000 people showed up. 1981 The usual London Pride was held in Huddersfield as an act of solidarity with the Yorkshire gay community who claimed that West Yorkshire Police were harassing them 8


2015Pride in London has become ever popular. In 2015 over 1 million people attended the London pride, making it the largest pride event in Britian and 7th largest pride in the world. It is the only annual event to close Oxford Street.

2019Pride has been growing since its launch. In 2019, the 50th anniversary of Stonewall the ‘Stonewall 50, World Pride NYC’ had over 5 million attendees in Manhattan alone, making it the largest pride event to date. 2021On 26 June 2021, a community of the LGBT community in Malawi held its first Pride Parade. The parade was held in the country’s capital city, Lilongwe.



Disablity and LGBT history By Daisy Holder


ast year, as part of my work on disability history, I shared this image of Connie Panzarino at a Pride march in Boston. The photo, a blend of disabled and queer history, was so pearl-clutchingly unexpected that I got mass reported and briefly put on the Instagram naughty step. Queer history and disability history are usually considered very different subjects, studied by very different people. Looking back at LGBTQ+ history, it’s not too hard to see why.

Up until 1990, the World Health Organisation still listed homosexuality as a mental disorder. Most of the fight for the rights of LGBTQ+ people has been in opposing the assertion that queerness in itself is a disability. High profile protests against the medicalisation of sexual orientation, such as the 1979 story of Swedish protestors calling into work sick claiming they “felt too gay”, means that we can all too easily forget the people who fit into both of these boxes. If you’ve ever been to Italy, or heard of Italy, you’re probably familiar with Michelangelo. Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, who joins the club of People Better Known By 10


Just One Name (also attended by Pele and Shakira), is best known for his ceilings, his Davids and being the most documented artist of the 16th Century. After growing up in a down-on-theirluck noble family, his two most famous sculptures were both completed before he turned 30. Even at this stage though, painful hands made sculpting both exhausting and arduous, which were themes reflected so significantly in his work that some recent critics have deemed him “a drama queen”. He was also staunchly Catholic from childhood; so Catholic in fact that he allegedly had an affair with the Pope. And although he saw painting as the lesser of the arts, he was commissioned to paint the frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Despite his apparent inability to maintain any kind of personal relationships, he had a long lasting (as far as we can tell, completely platonic) friendship with a widow called Vittoria and an endless (as far as we can tell, completely not platonic) love with a young nobleman called Tommaso. By this point Michelangelo had turned to poetry, partly due to his hand pain, and the series of poems he wrote to Tommaso remain the first love poems written by one man to another man in modern language. A good long while after his death, one of his descendents was going through his papers and found that these poems had been changed to make the object of the lustful prose a woman. Naturally that wouldn’t do and so with a harumph he changed them back, but this habit of repressing someone’s sexuality after they died continued to be relatively common with noteworthy figures from history. Lord Byron, the “mad, bad and dangerous to know” poet, who had to squeeze in writing his poetry around the regular postal deliveries of pubic hair from adoring poetry fans, is now considered very blatantly bisexual. After a former lover started spreading (very accurate) rumours that he had sex with other men, he left England under a cloud. His friends maintained that his sudden departure had been completely voluntary, but the people hissing at him in the theatre probably didn’t help. His numerous affairs with both men and women were well documented, and widely known about within his social circle, as were his demands that the deformed foot he was born with be constantly covered up so no-one could see it, even in bed which must have

been curious for those accompanying him to his chambers. After he died, many of his close friends got together, and burned all of his papers in an attempt to protect his reputation. But some years later a poem was published called Don Leon. It was attributed to Byron, although it probably wasn’t him at all, and was supposedly rescued from The Big Paper Burning. It was a manifesto of sorts, calling for an end to the death penalty for homosexual sex. While it didn’t prompt any immediate changes of the law or public opinion, it certainly caused a stir amongst the great and good of England at the time. The personal lives of many notable figures within their lifetimes could cause similar stirs. Frida Kahlo was used to it, but still struggled with it. These days, she’s best known for her art, her eyebrows and her widely documented affairs with both men and women. During her lifetime though, she was a part of an incredibly influential group of friends known as ‘The Children of the Revolution’ at a time of huge political upheaval in Mexico, as well as being one half of the on-again off-again power couple known as ‘Diego and Frida’. Much of her art focussed around her experiences of both physical and psychological pain. While she has the status of a cult icon, a phenomenon deemed ‘Fridamania’ (which is why at this moment you can buy salt shakers, makeup brushes and door stops with her face on), in her home country she is primarily celebrated for her use of Mexican and indigenous culture in her art. Her list of achievements and

firsts after her shift from law into politics is longer than this entire article. She was the first woman elected to represent Texas in the House of Representatives, the first LGBTQ+ woman in Congress, the first African American to be buried in the Texas State Cemetery and first African American woman to serve as a governor of a state (it was acting governor and only for a day but it still counts). Barbara was seen as such a talented politician that at the Democratic National Convention she somehow managed to receive votes to be their presidential candidate, despite not actually putting her hat into the ring for it. She never publicly acknowledged her Multiple

Sclerosis but also didn’t hide it, frequently teaching and doing speeches with a cane or later on, in a wheelchair. This privacy also stretched to other areas of her life and identity, those that she didn’t want to be defined by. That included Nancy, her life partner of 30 years, criptically referred to as her ‘longtime companion’ in her obituary, which really is only one step away from ‘gal pals’. Neither ever stated they were in a romantic relationship, but Barbara regularly introduced Nancy to people as her partner so it didn’t take a lot of work to figure out. While Jordan and many others like her were quiet and subtle in their activism and representation of disabled and queer people, others were really, really not. Marsha P Johnson has become a widely celebrated figure online in the last few years, for very good reasons, but many of the things you’ve heard about her may not be exactly right. She identified not as transgender but intemittently, as either a gay man, a transvestite or a drag queen. It is worth noting though that the term transgender wasn’t in wide use at this point, and so she might have been merely unfamiliar with the term. She definitely had a flexible view of her gender, telling anyone who asked whether she was a man or a woman that the P in her name stood for “pay it no mind”. While many have credited her with throwing the first brick at the Stonewall Riots, she denies that she was even there at the beginning. She was however a major figure in the uprisings, as one of the first drag queens to start going to the Stonewall Inn once they stopped restricting their clientele to only gay men. Although she denied being there right at the start, she sure as hell was there later on. Many sources agree that on the second night, she shimmied up a lamppost and dropped a brick onto the windshield of a police car, smashing it into pieces. The riots were the culmination of growing tension between the LGBTQ+ community and the police, after a rapidly increasing numbers of violent

raids of gay bars, supposedly to combat the mafia. This time though, the community had decided that enough was enough. The Stonewall Riots resulted in protests and marches for weeks afterwards, demanding the freedom for queer people to live openly and without fear. One year later, in commemoration of the riots, the first gay pride marches were held in cities across the USA. The influence of members of the queer disabled community simply being visible can’t be underestimated though, particularly given the historical tradition where many people had to distance themselves from these identities. An exception to this though was Bobbie Lea Bennet. For many transgender people in the US, having gender affirming surgery meant either funding expensive treatment and rehabilitation themselves out of their own pockets. Either that, or using a near impossible argument to prove that their gender identity was a disability, to get the government to agree to cover the cost with social security benefits. However for transgender people who were already disabled and already had their costs covered by social security, that step could theoretically be skipped. Or at least that was what Bobbie had originally been told. However, after having jumped through all the hoops required of her by the medical team and the government, she was informed that Medicare had suddenly changed their mind about paying the cost, and decided they didn’t fancy funding the whole thing anymore. So she did what any stubborn person would do, drove from California to Washington DC and refused to leave the office until the director had agreed to meet with her. Soon after Bobbie’s meeting with the director of Medicare, (which I’m sure was very polite and didn’t involve her verbally ripping this man a new orifice), she received a mysterious cheque in the post that just so happened to cover the entire cost of the surgery that they had previously refused to cover. And just a few months later, the

director announced a new policy (which was definitely entirely his own idea) that meant that Medicare coverage would now be extended to include gender affirming surgery. This intersection of queer history and disability history hasn’t just always existed, but has always been instrumental in the progression of our rights. By not seeking out these stories, and ignoring how intersectional communities have contributed, we risk missing out on all the lessons that those before us have taught. See more from Daisy: @disablityhistorysnapshots



Happily Never After: 20th Century Censorship, Lesbian Pulp Novels, and ‘Bury Your Gays’ By Meredith Walker


he Comstock Act is best known for criminalizing the distribution of materials related to abortion or contraception through the U.S. Postal Service. However, discussion about family planning was not the only kind of content that the Comstock Act censored. Starting with the publication of Women’s Barracks in 1950, the titillating accounts of lesbianism in pulp novels began to gain popularity and a place on the pulp fiction racks of newsstands and drugstores across America. Most of these novels were written by straight men for straight men and were little more



than soft-core erotica that explored taboo sexuality such as lesbian rape or incest. However, a small subset of these novels were written by women, and while there was still a tendency toward arousing content in these, many of them were as much love stories as they were erotica. Pulp novels were distributed through the U.S. Postal Service. The Comstock Act prevented the use of the mail to distribute material that was “obscene, lewd, or lascivious,” one might ask how this lesbian erotica made it past the censors to the bookshelves at all. The answer is that the Comstock Act seemed to be enforced the same way the Motion Picture Production Code was. If the crime doesn’t pay, it’s not obscene…it’s a morality lesson.In this era, homosexuality was as bad (or perhaps worse) than Frank Sinatra robbing a casino. Ocean’s 11 ends in the ill-gotten cash being incinerated (literally, crime doesn’t pay), but for lesbian pulp novels, the “crime” usually ended in madness, murder, or heterosexuality. Dick Carroll (editor of Gold Medal Books in the early 1950s) told Marijane Meaker (author of Spring Fire): “You see, our books go through the mails. They have to pass inspection…If your book appears to proselytize for homosexuality, all the books sent with it to the distributors are returned.” Carroll and Meaker had this conversation when she pitched him her book idea. “[Y]our main character...has to reject it knowing that it’s wrong.” “In other words, my heroine has to decide she’s really not queer.” “That’s it. And the one she’s involved with is sick or crazy.” There was the loophole, and there were four common tropes used by writers who took advantage of this loophole. Institutionalization/insanity Murder/Suicide Eventual heterosexuality Trauma causing sexual dysfunction/ corrective rape Most of the books contained more than one of these tropes, just to be safe. In Spring Fire, Mitch decides she was never actually a lesbian, and Leda, her love interest, is institutionalized. If some of these sounds familiar, it’s

because the way authors of lesbian pulp threaded that loophole has had lasting consequences on the way queer women are represented in media decades later. Institutionalization and traumatic sexual experiences are rarer tropes in modern media, but they still appear from time to time. From American Horror Story, to How to Get Away with Murder, characters go mad, get institutionalized, or have the “sexual dysfunction” of their queerness explained as a response to sexual trauma. However, the tropes of murder/ suicide and eventual heterosexuality are incredibly common in modern representations of queerness, especially in media portrayals of queer women. “Bury your gays” became a common trope for exactly the reason that queer characters just cannot seem to make it to the epilogue alive. They represent far fewer characters in media than their heterosexual counterparts, but a far higher percentage of those characters end up dead. One 2016 Vox article, which assessed all TV deaths from 2015-2016, found that 10% of deaths were queer women. A staggering number considering how few queer women were portrayed in the first place. Moreover, as bad as that number seems, the most common of these tropes is still the inevitability of heterosexuality for queer women. Whether it’s a character that briefly has a relationship with a woman before ending up with a male partner or the “lesbian kiss episode” that sweeps week popularized in the 1990s. Lesbianism as a sales gimmick, where women return to the heterosexual norm after a “walk on the wild” side, is another trope from the lesbian pulp era that has become embedded in modern media portrayals of queer women. These tropes took hold in the 1950s to get around censorship, but once they were introduced, they became a self-perpetuating meme that has subconsciously become the standard for how queer women are viewed in media. See more from Meredith: @meredith_ancret

Sal Madge: The Woman Ahead of Her Time

By Rebecca Wilson


n the small coastal town of Whitehaven in West Cumbria, lived a wonderful and unique woman who challenged social and gender norms. Sal (Sarah) Madge was born in Penrith Workhouse in 1841, and when she died a pauper 1899, the streets were lined with mourners wanting to show their respects.

physical job, her physical strength is evidenced in her photograph. (see above) She wore a shirt made for men, a waistcoat, a kerchief cloth cap and she smoked a pipe. This was very unusual for women at the time. Unlike today, women simply did notwear men’s attire. From the waist up, she looked very masculine. Her long skirt would have made her job more difficult; getting caught under the hooves, dragging in the dirt and uncomfortable in many weathers, however, working outdoors and the practicality of using the toilet, perhaps led her to continue wearing her skirts. She did her job well and for most of her life. She also had her hair cut very short, which was an uncommon style for women. Women didn’t usually smoke in public, especially not a pipe. This was seen as a men’s pastime and deeply “unladylike”. It wouldn’t be until the 1920s, well after Sal Madge’s death, that women smoking in public was accepted. Obviously, today we know the health risks of smoking, however, Sal was most definitely ahead of her time taking up this masculine. Although there is no evidence of her sexuality, Sal never married or had children and this was very unusual at the time. Being transgender and/or homosexual was sadly stigmatised and deeply misunderstood. It was not something openly discussed or written about, and gay people would often find themselves obligated to sacrifice their happiness to marry someone of the opposite sex.

This is where Sal was different. She did not conform or accept the role of wife or mother. Looking closely at the census returns, it appears that Sal lived with various women over the years, and seems to settle down with a widow and her children. They could never have officially called each others “partner” or “wife” but it is wonderful that she never had to marry someone she didn’t love because of convention. She could often be found in the local public houses, drinking beer and playing cards for money. She would also often compete in wrestling in The Cumberland Games. She was allegedly strong enough to throw her male competitors and often won. She would stand up for herself and those weaker than her and would defend herself physically if she had to. She had a good heart too. She would often collect money for charitable causes, and even drove the Rocket Brigade waggon. The Rocket Brigade was a life-saving organisation which fired rockets carrying lines out to ships that were wrecked along the coast. Sal would shout to raise the alarm and together, they saved countless lives. WIth character of strength, Sal was a formidable woman. She pushed every social boundary, whether by design or accident. She was a tobacco chewing, hard drinking, live-saving, wrestling trailblazer. See more from Rebecca: @tudorghostmammy

Sal in her cloth cap, man’s coat, waistcoat and cravat Sal worked alongside men in the many pits around Whitehaven. In 1842 an Act was passed which meant women were not allowed to work in the mines, but this did not stop her doing manual labour on the surface of the pit. She drove the horses with full carts of coal along the rail-tracks to load onto the ships along the harbour. This was a very THE HISTORIANS MAGAZINE




he Bloomsbury Group were a group of friends like no other before them (or at least not historically recorded previously…) A group of artists, creatives, who left their privileged, ‘classically British’ upbringing and high-class society to live together at Charleston in East Sussex. Their modernist home became a studio, gathering many of the early 20th century’s most radical authors, thinkers, painters, and artists, many of whom were queer women and men who lived and worked to redefine society and ‘normality’ that was rapidly changing in the inter-war years. Their personal relationships were private, public, scrutinised, gossiped about, and cheered from all angles and today they are among the many important figures in LGBT history. I am a historian passionate about shedding light on little-known stories, female history, domestic life (the good, the mundane and the areas rarely considered important), art, design, culture, love, gossip and a little sex and scandal all mixed together. The Bloomsbury Group bring together many of these areas, while look at them from a wide gaze, I hope to share a brief overview of why these people “lived in squares, painted in circles and loved in triangles”, as American Poet Dorothy Parker, from the



Rothschild family, describe the group as. Dorothy also wrote the original script for ‘A Star is Born’ (1937), which has been re-made 4 times! Today the group of men and women is admired as change-makers. The Bloomsbury Group was a bunch of friends, though really, they are a collective of some of the most gifted and talented people of the early 20th century in Britain. Among their creative, literary, and academic ideas and values, they collected in their mutual liberalism and ideals for love, sex, relationships, and friendships. They supported young, up-andcoming artists and left a legacy of 30 years. This article, I’m aware, reads like a gossip column of who was with who, who liked who, who kissed who etc. though I hope to show that a century ago people loved who they wanted regardless of the law, and as with now, anyone and everyone should be able to love who they love, be friends with who they want, have fun with their group. As long as you’re safe, happy and consenting mutually, you do not need anyone else’s approval or opinions about what you do either side of a closed door. Numbers and names come and go, or grow, and that is alright. As with privacy today, I’ve kept to names that are known and tried not to allude to any acts or actions that are not needed to know or factually known. Whatever age you are and whoever you love, it is your own choice to share intimate information about you, especially when it comes to matters of the heart, mind and soul. Among the Bloomsbury Group were two iconic sisters – Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf. You may know Virginia Woolf for her literary achievements including her infamous novel Orlando published in 1928. Orlando is seen as a slight biography of Woolf’s life and the family of friend and lover Vita Sackville-West. *Spoiler* Orlando is essentially a history book about the aristocracy in England, yet as a novel, it is satirical, with Orlando (the main character) living for centuries, changing genders externally from male to female. They meet a variety of famous characters including King Charles II and Alexander Pope and the novel ends in an interestingly abrupt way, into Virigina’s lifetime. *If you haven’t read it yet, it has been published nearly 100 years, so get reading!! In 1917, Vita escaped to Europe for two years with a lover Violet Trefusis,

causing gossip and scandal in high society. In 1922, Vita and Virginia met, and it’s said Vita was attracted to Virginia’s genius, leading to the very passionate and actively sexual relationship. Male Homosexuality was a criminal offence in the U.K. In 1921 there was an unsuccessful vote to criminalise sexual acts between women also. Politicians feared if this was announced illegal, it could encourage women to explore each other sexually. “I am reduced to a thing that wants Virginia… It is incredible how essential to me you have become” wrote Vita in 1926 to Virginia within many of their hundreds of romantic letters to one another. Both were married to men, Harold Nicholson and Leonard Woolf, yet both husbands also came to have same-sex affairs. Leonard saw how positively Vita impacted Virginia life and her work, so gave no objection to their continued relationship. Virginia and Vita’s relationship can be felt across Bloomsbury in London, Charleston, and Knole Park in Kent. Knole is a National Trust property with six centuries of history. Joining royal possession with Henry VIII. In 1603 Thomas Sackville made Knole home for his family, where extensions, interior alterations and designs displayed the family’s status, wealthy and later creativity for 400 years. Fast forward to the early 20th century and

Vita and her cousin Eddy SackvilleWest (who inherited the estate) lived and entertained in this calendar house which has an unknown number of rooms… What secrets can be found within them? I fear I’ll explain Eddy SackvilleWest’s life and loves too briefly by name. He bought his joint property ‘Long Crichel House’ in Wimborne with his partner Desmond Shawe-

Taylor, the author and music critic; and art dealer Eardley Knollys (Bloomsbury Group member, with life partner Frank Coombs). Knollys century and Vita and her cousin Eddy Sackville-West (who inherited the estate) lived and entertained in this calendar house which has an unknown number of rooms… What secrets can be found within them? I fear I’ll explain Eddy Sackville-West’s life and loves too briefly by name. He bought his joint property ‘Long Crichel House’ in Wimborne with his partner Desmond Shawe-Taylor, the author and music critic; and art dealer Eardley Knollys (Bloomsbury Group member, with life partner Frank Coombs). Knollys and Sackville-West formed a male salon with gay activity Patrick Trevor-Roper, Raymond Mortimer and National Trust writer and historian James Lees-Milne. E.M. Foster, author of A Room with a View and Howards End was among Knolly’s lovers and Bloomsbury Group fellow member. Howards End’s Schelegel sisters is inspired by Vannessa Bell and Virgina Woolf, both née Stephen. While we’re focused on the male side of the Bloomsbury Group, it’s interesting to know Foster, Lytton Strachey and John Maynard Keynes met at King’s College, Cambridge where he joined the Apostles Society who met to discuss philosophical and moral questions... Did this lead them to their more modern way of living and loving? Well Strachey joined Clive Bell, Leonard Woolf (3 guesses who they marry), Saxon SydneyTurner and A.J Robertson to form the Cambridge Midnight Society which was the source of the Bloomsbury Group… Thoby Stephen then became a friend, bringing in his sisters Vanessa and Virginia into the group. Back to Charleston now, home of Vanessa Bell and her lover Duncan Grant. Vanessa was a leader of the British Post-Impressionism movement. Born into Victorian “intellectual aristocracy” she became an artist and interior designer – literally painting their whole house including the doorknobs, ceilings, and fireplaces – her unique artistic flair can be seen throughout Charleston House. The

bohemian way of life inspired Bell and Grant to colour and paint every inch. Bell flirted with abstractionism, painting some of Britain’s first nonrepresentational paintings. She later painted domestic life, landscapes and still lifes also, though much of her work was destroyed during the Blitz in Bloomsbury. With husband Clive Bell, Vanessa had two sons, Julian (died during the Spanish Civil War) and Quentin (father of living, notable textile designer Cressida Bell). They had an open marriage which was new and unheard of at the time. She had an affair with Roger Fry and painter Duncan Grant. Vanessa, Clive, Duncan and his partner David Garnett lived together, painting from Fry’s Omega Workshops. Vanessa and Duncan had a daughter named Angelica Vanessa Garnett (1918-2012). She wrote a memoir Deceived with Kindness about her experiences in the heart of the Bloomsbury Group growing up with many parental figures and a wealth of love, happiness, and heartache. Now why does Angelica have her biological fathers’ boyfriend’s surname…? In 1942, aged 24, Angelica married David Garnett. They had four daughters – Amaryllis, Henrietta, Nerissa and Frances. Garnett had written to Lytton Strachey upon Angelica’s birth (while in a relationship with her father) “Its beauty is the remarkable thing… I think of marrying it; when she is 20 I shall be 46 – will it be scandalous?” Their love inspired David’s novel Aspects of Love, of which Andrew Lloyd Webber produced a musical about! David and Angelica separated in 1967. George Bergen (another lover of Duncan), Russian-Jewish painter, began a short-lived relationship with Angelica. After her father’s death in 1978, she moved back to Charleston to paint, work with mosaics, ceramics, and textiles. Another twist is that Henrietta Garnett married Lytton Burgo Partridge, who was the son of David Garnett’s first wife’s sister Frances Partridge! There are many more stories to learn and share about this fascinating

group. Their art was radical at the time, contributing greatly to the British art progressions. In literary terms, their influence was huge. In 1917 Leonard and Virginia set up The Hogarth Press to publish contemporary fiction, writers included Virginia herself, T.S. Eliot, Katherine Mansfield and E.M. Forster. Please do read more about this creative group and follow in their footsteps one day too. I’ve loved every step I’ve taken around their homes! Places to visit to see Bloomsbury Group’s work or lives: Charleston Farmhouse, Firle, East Sussex Tilton House, Firle (John Maynard Keynes & wife Lydia Lopokova’s home) Knole Park, Kent (Vita and Tom Sackville-West’s Home) – National Trust Sissinghurst Castle Garden, Kent- (Vita Sackville-West’s home) – National Trust Monk’s House, East Sussex (Leonard & Virginia Woolf’s Home) – National Trust Bloomsbury, London The Church of St Michael and All Angels, Berwick, East Sussex (painted by Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell, Quentin and Angelica) The Round House, Lewes, East Sussex (Leonard & Virginia’s Home) See more from Georgina: @georgina_dorothy_





Location announced for the UK’s first national LGBTQ+ museum


ounded in 2018, Queer Britain has been aiming to open a new museum, the first national LGBTQ+ museum in the UK, in order to provide a safe and inclusive environment for everyone to learn about the history of the LGBTQ+ community. It is very exciting to say that this will soon become a reality, with hopes that the doors will open to its new home on the ground floor of 2 Granary Square, Kings Cross in Spring 2022. This space is currently owned by Art Fund, who provide millions of pounds every year to museums across the UK. Once open, visitors will have access to four galleries, a workshop, education spaces and will be full accessible. Entry will be free, but donations are welcome to allow Queer Britain to continue its important work. Queer Britain is a registered charity, working to establish the UK’s first national LGBTQ+ museum and is set to be arguably one of the most important museums to have launched in the UK in recent years. Co-founded in 2018 by Joseph Galliano, Queer Britain now has over 30 team members and numerous volunteers who have been working behind the scenes to bring the museum into reality. It will shine a light on the queer communities rich

and complex histories becoming be an essential place for all, regardless of sexuality or gender identity, to discover the rich and diverse history and culture of LGBTQ+ people throughout the UK and beyond. Hear from Queer Britain: Lisa Power (she/her), Queer Britain trustee

“I’m really excited that Queer Britain is finally going to have a space to show what we can do and that we’re here for all the community, from old lesbian feminist warhorses like me to young queer folk of all genders and ethnicities. Queer Britain aims to tell our many and diverse histories, and now we have a home to do that from.”

Anjum Mouj (she/her), Queer Britain

“The UK is finally getting the LGBTQ+ museum it deserves, to reflect and celebrate all our exciting and wildly diverse communities, whatever their sexualities, gender identities, backgrounds, ability or heritage. Community lives in unity.” Joseph Galliano (he/him), director and co-founder, Queer Britain

‘It’s time the UK had an LGBTQ+ museum, for all. And we are delighted to have found our first home in beautiful Granary Square with Art Fund as our first landlord. It’s a prime location accessible to swathes of the country, and in a part of town with a rich Queer heritage.’ Find out more at: THE HISTORIANS MAGAZINE




he first time Hans Scholl pops up on the historic lens, is at the 1936 Nuremburg Rally. An enthusiastic member of the Hitler Youth, the teenager had been handpicked to be a flag bearer. He was the epitome of Aryan youth; tall, strong, athletic and intelligent, Hans Scholl was the ideal young man for the Third Reich’s future. Yet, seven years later, Hans would be labelled a traitor, a resistance leader, executed by the same party whose flag he’d once proudly held aloft. A founding member and leader of the White Rose, the story of Hans Scholl has remained something of a historic footnote, the spotlight instead focused on his younger sister, Sophie Scholl. The reason for this is complicated. The obvious answer is that in popular history we’re always looking for easy heroes – a heroic young woman who died fighting the Nazis – that’s a much simpler sell than Hans with his history in the Hitler Youth. And there is truth in that sentiment however it’s only a small fragment of the reason behind histories sidelining of Hans Scholl. For decades a veil of secrecy hid Hans true history, his sister Inga Scholl acting as gatekeeper, her love for her brother making her determined that the world would never find out who he truly was. Afraid that if they did, he and the whole of The White Rose would no longer be celebrated but demonised. Hans Scholl was put on trial by the Third Reich twice, once for his leadership of the White Rose in 1943 and once in 1938, following a



1937 arrest after which he had been charged under Paragraph 175a – the infamous German legal provision that made homosexuality a crime. Hans had been arrested alongside his brother Werner for having been members of the illegal youth group, dj.1.11. He’d joined the group in 1935 along with other boys from his Hitler Youth troop; dj.1.11 was a break from militarised activities, a chance to hike, camp and just hang out with friends. It was technically illegal, but innocent, which is likely why Werner and most of the other boys were quickly released, charges dropped. But not Hans. The investigation into the group had uncovered that in 1936, when he was sixteen, Hans Scholl had been in a relationship with another boy, then fifteen-year-old Rolf Futterknecht. This was the truth that Inga Scholl desperately hid, redirecting historians and journalists alike when asked about the 1937 arrest – Hans like Werner had been arrested for being in an illegal youth group, that was all. Gradually historians went beyond Inga, tracking down Hans Scholl’s interrogation transcripts and trial records, among this number was Ruth Sachs, a historian and researcher who translated many of these, as well as other important White Rose documents. In Sachs work, Inga’s fears for how history would treat her brother were confirmed. In her 2003 book, White Rose History Volume I, Sachs describes Hans Scholl as a ‘paedophile’ vilifying him as a homosexual predator. Yet, that is not what can actually be found in the transcripts. Instead, Hans’s interrogation tells the story of young romance. Something that started as a mutual crush and turned into a relationship, which like many relationships, included sex. Hans telling the Gestapo that it was ‘an overpowering love…that required some means of release.’ In an effort to protect his former boyfriend, Hans also tried to take full responsibility; ‘I must admit that I am the guilty party… To some extent, I was seen by [Rolf] as someone in a position of authority, to whom he had subordinated himself.’ His plan worked and Rolf Futterknecht was not taken to trial on the agreement that he would be a witness for the

state. Surprisingly during his early incarnation, it wasn’t just Futterknecht that Hans remained loyal to, but the regime. He’d write Nazi slogans in his letters to his parents (who were both against the party) and to an extent used Nazi beliefs to justify his own arrest. On 14th December 1937 he wrote home, explaining he knew that homosexuality was not just a crime, but wrong and that he’d been struggling with this for years, trying to work against his feelings in the hope he’d ‘have been washed clean again.’ However, this comfort he found in the Nazi party and it’s hold over him didn’t last. During his imprisonment Hans witnessed the underbelly of the regime he loved, the dark truths behind its operation. Hans had hoped that his dedication to the Nazi party would help alleviate his sexuality, make him ‘washed clean again’, but once he was the party’s prisoner, the party only washed off his fanaticism. On 14th March 1938, he wrote again to his parents, this time examining the ideal world that the Nazi party had promised him, compared to what they actually provided, ‘My head is heavy with confusion. I can’t understand people anymore. When I hear these faceless cries of ecstatic enthusiasm coming from the radio, I want to go out onto a great lonely plane and be there alone.’ On 2nd June 1938, Hans’s trial came to a close and he was found guilty under Paragraph 175a. One year’s imprisonment was the prosecutor’s suggested punishment; however, this was waived by the judge. Hans spotless record and Hitler Youth membership providing a literal get out of jail free card. However, Hans’s close friend and fellow dj.1.11. member, Ernst Reden was not so lucky. He was also found guilty of homosexuality, and his sentence carried out; three months in Welzheim concentration camp. Shortly after his own release, Hans wrote in his diary ‘If you tear our hearts from our bodies - it is you who’ll burn to death for it.’ Yet despite this passion, he did not jump straight into resistance. The trial, the interrogations, the loss of what he’d once believed, it had all drained him and he started to sink into a

depression. In 1939 Hans began studying medicine at Munich University. During this time, he dated several women, however decades later in 2018 one of his former girlfriends, Traute Lafrenz, explained to historian Dr. Robert Zoske, that the couple broke up as Hans had a deep problem that he kept ‘dreadfully secret’. Traute refused to say what this problem was, but both Zoske and historian, Jud Newborn, believe that she was referring to Hans’s sexuality and much like Inge Scholl, she was afraid that being known as homosexual would destroy Hans’s legacy. It’s possible then that Hans was either trying to hide his homosexuality by using these girls as a cover, or that he was once again trying to become ‘clean’ of his sexuality. It’s equally possible that Hans was bi-sexual. But who Hans Scholl dated whilst he was at Munich University is far less historically important than what he did during his time there. Between 1939 and 1942, Hans emerged from his depression and seems to have been determined to take what had happened to him and channel it into something greater. He befriended, among others, fellow student Alexander Schmorell and Josef Söhngen, the owner of a bookshop Hans frequented and whose homosexuality was somewhat of an open secret. Hans had found his tribe, a band of quiet radicals who engaged in riotous debates on politics, philosophy and history, Söhngen providing them with a veritable library of banned books. During this time, Hans, along with Schmorell were enlisted as a medic officers. Both men were appalled by what they saw at The Eastern Front; the civilians forced from their homes, the bodies they’d stepped over in the street and the rumours of mass killings. This kind of shock wasn’t rare among the military, however unlike other young men, when Hans and Schmorell returned to Munich, their friends weren’t just willing to hear about the horrors they’d witnessed, but eager to see what they could do about it. The

White Rose began to bloom. Between 27 June and 12 July 1942 Hans and Alexander Schmorell wrote the first four leaflets of the White Rose Society. Using a printing press hidden in Josef Söhngen’s bookshop, they made as many copies as possible, working with members including Willi Graf, Kurt Huber, Christoph Probst and later Hans’s sister, Sophie, to smuggle the leaflets anywhere and everywhere they could. By the time they came to publishing the fifth leaflet in January 1943, the White Rose was a fully fledged underground operation, printing thousands of copies and distributing them to towns and cities beyond Munich. In February, Hans escalated activities to include anti-Nazi graffiti, as well as the publication of what would be the movements final leaflet, Fellow students!. On 18 February 1943, Hans and Sophie set their sights on a leaflet drop in Munich University’s main building. Armed with a suitcase stuffed with hundreds of copies of Fellow students! They got to work, surreptitiously leaving bundles of leaflets around the building for students to find after classes had finished. As they were about to leave Sophie realised that a number of leaflets were left over, pushed for time with classes about to let out, but determined to spread their message, she tossed the leaflets over the staircase onto the university’s atrium floor - an inescapable carpet of protest for anyone entering or exiting the building. It was this hasty action that uprooted the White Rose. Sophie had been seen and by the end of the day, brother and sister were in Gestapo custody. A draft seventh leaflet, penned by Christoph Probst was found in Hans possession and two days later he was arrested too. In the following days the Gestapo caught up with Willi Graf, Kurt Huber and Alexander Schmorell. As he did in 1937, during his initial interrogations Hans once more tried to take sole responsibility, but when it became clear that the Gestapo already had evidence

against his fellow members, he changed tact, lying about the extent of their involvement; Christoph Probst hadn’t known he was writing a leaflet, Hans had just asked him to write down his thoughts on politics (thoughts Hans had indoctrinated Probst with in the first place). Hans had made his sister Sophie distribute leaflets. He was the guilty party and should be punished as such; ‘I knew what I took upon myself and I was prepared to lose my life by so doing.’ Sadly, this time Hans was unsuccessful in his attempts to sacrifice himself to shield his loved ones from Third Reich Law. Although his false confessions had led to the majority of charges being levied against him, on 22nd February 1943, Hans Scholl, Sophie Scholl and Christoph Probst were all sentenced to death by guillotine. The sentence was carried out that same day. As 23 year old Hans Scholl waited for the blade to fall, he shouted ‘Es leibe die Freiheit!/ long live freedom.’The roots of this particular call for freedom were born out of the persecution Hans Scholl faced in 1937. His experience not only changed him, but made him more aware of the endless other persecutions that tyranny causes. Hans told the Gestapo that he’d picked the name The White Rose at random, but this almost certainly wasn’t the case. Rather its name held the key to everything Hans hoped the group would do. It likely came from 1929’s, Die Weisse Rose, a banned book given to him by Josef Söhngen. The book contains this passage: ‘And I promise you that when I’ve found the truth, the White Rose won’t have been plucked for nothing. If perhaps, it can never bloom again in all its beauty, it shall certainly not fade away, never. It shall bear fruit that will ripen. And that shall be the beginning of the liberation of the country and its citizens. We will have a country in which every single rose, white or red, shall have freedom to bloom…’. See more from Natasha: @F_Yeah_history THE HISTORIANS MAGAZINE




n 1952, Dr Alan Mathison Turing was convicted of ‘gross indecency’ after it was discovered he was in a relationship with Arnold Murray following a burglary at Turing’s house. At this time, homosexual acts were a criminal offence and so Turing had a choice; either to face imprisonment or hormone treatment and probation. The ‘treatment’ was a form of chemical castration and Turing had to undergo this for a year. Today, Turing is well-known for his work at Bletchley Park, contributing to the war effort in the field of cryptanalysis, even receiving an OBE following the war. Despite his contributions, as we will later touch upon, his prosecution disbarred him from working with the government to continue to provide his expertise in his areas of research. During this article, we will explore the life of Turing, his academic work, his contribution to the war before finally looking into his reputation today. Education & Early Work Highly educated, Turing first began his university studies at Cambridge in 1931 to study Mathematics. Graduating in 1934, he went on to work on the Entscheidungsproblem (‘decision problem’). The Entscheidungsproblem aims to see whether there is a definitive process to apply to any mathematical claim that can always answer if that claim is true or not. Turing was able to prove that this was not possible and

commenced working on the ‘Turing Machine’. In 1938, Turing completed his PhD at Princeton University and began to work on the Zeta-Function Machine, a machine aimed to work on the questions around the Riemann Hypothesis. With war looming however, this work was abandoned as Turing made his way to commence working at Bletchley Park. Turing’s Time at Bletchley Park Today, Turing is of course most well-known for this work as a Codebreaker, working on cracking the German Enigma cipher. It is important to note however, that this work was not completed alone. In the early 1930s, three Polish Mathematicians, Marian Rejewski, Henryk Zygalski and Jerzy R życki, were tasked with breaking the cipher. With tensions rising across Europe, the knowledge was shared with the British and French at the Pyry Forest Meeting in July 1939, allowing the work to continue. Although by this time the Germans had upgraded the cipher, the early breakthroughs highlighted that the cipher was indeed breakable. On the 17th January 1940, Turing was present when the Polish codebreakers made by the first wartime break in Paris. Upon his return to Bletchley Park, Turing was able to repeat the process. During his early days at Bletchley Park, Turing worked in Dilly Knox’s Enigma Research Section in Cottage 2 before taking over the running of Hut 8 in 1941. Inspired by the Polish Bomba machine, Turing designed the Bombe machine, which efficiently cracked the cipher and a technique called Banburismus, which helped reduce the number of tests to be run on the Bombe. The creation of the Bombe machines and the techniques used to crack the cipher was one of Turing’s greatest achievements. The speed at which the cipher was deciphered allowed great success in the war efforts, both in battle and transporting essential goods and

supplies. Work & Life after Bletchley Park During the war, Turing continued with his work, assisting the US Navy with their own Bombe machines and later moving to Hanslope Park in 1943 to work on Delilah, a speech encryption programme. After the war, he turned his attentions to computing, designing the Automatic Computing Engine (ACE) at the National Physical Laboratory and began working on the ‘imitation game’. The imitation game or ‘Turing Test’ concerned itself with artificial intelligence and how to determine if a machine is intelligent or not. Despite his invaluable contributions to the war effort, the discovery of his homosexuality was treated as immoral and as mentioned, he was charged with gross indecency and forced to undertake chemical castration. This was not unique to Turing; thousands of homosexual people were treated as criminals until the Sexual Offences Act 1967 partially legalised same-sex acts in the UK between men over the age of 21 conducted in private. This was not followed by Scotland and Northern Ireland until 1981 and was by no means a resolution. Under Thatcher’s government in 1988, education on LGBT issues was banned to prevent ‘promoting homosexuality’. This was only repealed in 2003 and took a further six years for an apology to be issued. Despite the legal acceptance, the struggle still continues today in society for equality. In June 1954, Turing was found dead, the result of cyanide poisoning. It is widely believed that he took his own life by eating a cyanide-poisoned apple, due to the impact of his prosecution and ‘treatment’ he had to undertake. However, as the treatment had ended a year earlier, there is little evidence to suggest it was purely this that led to his suicide. While suicide has been ruled as the cause of death, it has also been speculated that his death was THE HISTORIANS MAGAZINE


accidental, the result of inhaling fumes from his home chemistry lab. Turing Today Both in life and death, Turing has contributed enormously to two different, but very key areas and issues. The first is his contribution to modern computing and programming science. Alongside his fellow codebreakers and cryptographers, he made enormous strides in focusing in on key technology that we use today. Computing and artificial intelligence are academic areas that have grown and will continue to, and Turing’s work on computer intelligence underpins the continued growth of these areas. Importantly, Turing continues to be a figurehead to highlight the oppression experienced by homosexual people in the post-war period. In 2009, an apology was issued by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, describing the ordeal as ‘horrifying’ and in 2011, a petition was created to overturn his conviction. The petition gained over 37,000 signatures but was delayed following objections in the House of Commons. Instead, Queen Elizabeth II issued a royal pardon officially pardoning Turing in 2014, although this did not officially overturn his conviction. In the Policing and Crime Act 2017, the ‘Alan Turing’ law serves as an amnesty law to pardon those who were convicted of similar crimes, for both the living and deceased. Thousands have since received pardons, although some argue the term ‘pardon’ suggests a crime was committed and an apology would be the optimal amendment. Turing has become an extremely well-known character, for both his work and subsequent appalling treatment for a perceived crime. Although such criminality has since been overturned, work is needed to provide a safe environment for all members of the LGBTQ+ community, whilst 21


remembering the persecution that took place not too long ago.

A word from Bletchley Park:

“Alan Turing was one of the key figures in the breaking of German Enigma ciphers, which in turn made a significant contribution to Allied victory in WW2. His pioneering work on computing and AI also played a part in the foundation of our modern digital world. He is one of the most celebrated codebreakers at Bletchley Park, and continues to inspire both visitors to the site and people around the world.”

Photos provided by Bletchely Park

The Raid on Mother Clap’s Molly House

By Rebecca Gadd


n February 1726, a raid took place at a house in Field Lane, Holborn; around forty of its occupants were arrested. The house would not have attracted much attention if the activities inside had not become the source of legal scandal. It was not the only house of its kind in London, nor was it the last to be raided before the month was out. The house was, as it was called at the time, a “molly house”. These were establishments that existed to help gay men meet and socialise in a private space - “molly” being a contemporary term for a gay man. Spaces would commonly be registered as pubs, taverns, or, in the case of this house, coffeehouses. But this particular molly house stands out from the rest, and this is down to its proprietor, Margaret Clap. Next to nothing is known about Margaret Clap; we do not know when she was born, how she grew up, or how she came to run a molly house. We do know that Clap was married, and it has always been assumed that she was heterosexual (there is no evidence, aside from her marriage, to indicate what her sexual orientation was). Her husband, John Clap, was the owner of the house in Field Lane; it is reported that he was almost never in the house during business hours, rather that he let his wife run the establishment. Margaret was present during most hours of operation, and would leave mainly to get food and drink from the



nearby tavern. Not all molly houses were run by a friendly mind, and many were run purely as brothels, but it is more likely that Margaret earned her money through selling drink, and through gifts from her patrons. Clap stood out from her contemporaries due to her caring nature. Her set up and management of her business was based on allowing customers to enjoy themselves, without being focused on gaining a profit. It is reported that Margaret had ‘beds in every room of the house’ so that gentlemen could enjoy private meetings, and that mock weddings, complete with bridesmaids, would take place in the property. Margaret’s kindness towards the gay male community extended beyond that of her business. Clap allowed one customer to lodge in the house for over two years. She was also actively involved in legal battles relating to sodomy charges, going as far as provided false testimony in court to get another gentleman acquaintance acquitted of his charges. It was well known to those who needed to know that Margaret Clap took care of her clientele, and they dubbed her “Mother Clap”. The molly house in Field Lane is estimated to have operated during the years 1724-1726, and was under surveillance for most of this time. It was mostly targeted by the Society for the Reformation of Manners, whose main aims involved the suppression of profanity and immorality, and they were particularly vexed by the public’s use of brothels. Surveillance on Clap’s establishment began after a small group of the clientele turned informants after being wronged by their lovers. Some even led police into the building so that they could witness activities and gather evidence; the culmination of the surveillance was the raid in February 1726. It took place on a Sunday night; Clap’s house was especially popular on Sunday nights. After their arrest, not all the men

were charged with sodomy offences; many were released due to lack of evidence, but several had to go into hiding. Of the rest, one man was acquitted, one was tried, sentenced, and reprieved, one died in prison, and two were pilloried, fined, and imprisoned. Three of the arrested men were tried, found guilty, and sentenced to death; Gabriel Lawrence, Thomas Wright, and William Griffin were hanged at Tyburn on the 9th May 1726. Margaret Clap was also arrested and put on trial following the raid. Her charges were ‘keeping a disorderly house in which she procured and encouraged persons to commit sodomy’. Her history of involvement with the gay community in London, and her conduct witnessed in during business hours were used against her. The court heard how she ‘appear’d to be wonderfully pleas’d’ by everything going on around her. She was found guilty, fined 20 marks (about £13, 6 shillings, 8 pence), ordered to stand in the pillory, and given two years imprisonment. It is not known if Margaret “Mother” Clap survived her prison sentence.

There are no pictures of the location of Claps houses, but this building was very near by See more from Rebecca: @bexgadd (Instagram) & @ramennresearch (Twitter)

The Princess & The Archduchess By Alexandra Bowles


or many periods of history, sexuality was unseen and unspoken and even in today’s more accepting society, there is often a reluctance among historians to state the obvious in regards to historical LGBTQ+ relationships. Often two historical figures of the same gender are referred to as “close friends” or “intimate pals” despite evidence to suggest a romantic or sexual connection. One of the couples whose legacy has been marred by this reluctance is Isabella of Parma and Maria Christina of Austria. Isabella of Parma was born in 1741, the daughter of Philip Duke of Parma and Louise-Elisabeth of France and thus granddaughter of Philip V King of Spain and Louis XV King of France. Her childhood was not a particularly happy one; her parents’ marriage, like many politically arranged marriages of history, was unhappy and for years Isabella was the couple’s only child. Upon her mother’s death from smallpox in 1759, Isabella was absolutely distraught and in the aftermath of her loss, she developed a morbid fascination with death, becoming convinced that she shared her mother’s fate and was destined for an early demise. A year later she was married to Archduke Joseph who was the heir to the Holy Roman Empire. Both Joseph and Isabella were unsure about the marriage, not wanting to marry someone they had never met. The marriage went ahead regardless and despite his initial apprehension, Joseph soon fell completely head over heels in

love with his new wife. A feeling that she, unfortunately, did not seem to reciprocate. In fact, upon arriving in Vienna, it became abundantly clear that she preferred Joseph’s sister Maria Christina. Both women were highly educated, beautiful and charming and whilst Isabella was a talented musician who composed her own music and played the violin beautifully, Maria Christina was noted for having a particular talent for painting. The two very quickly developed an intense bond and despite living in close proximity, wrote to one another constantly. Luckily for us, some of their letters, most of which demonstrate a bond that goes beyond sisterly affection, have been preserved and published in various books and journals. In one letter Isabella writes, “I am told that the day begins with God. I, however, begin the day by thinking of the object of my love, for I think of her incessantly” whilst in another she writes, “I am madly in love with you, virtuously or diabolically, I love you and I will love you to the grave”. It’s often been suggested that Maria Christina’s feelings were less intense than Isabella’s which is entirely possible. However, we cannot be sure as Maria Christina’s letters were all destroyed after her death. In one letter between them, Isabella herself questions the depth of Maria Christina’s feelings, writing “I cannot bear waiting to know my fate, and to learn whether you consider me a person worthy of your love”. Blinded by his own infatuation with her, Joseph remained unaware of how intense the relationship between his wife and sister had become; he also initially remained unaware of Isabella’s increasing melancholy. When he did realise the full extent of her struggles, he had no idea how to help her. Over the course of their three-year marriage, Isabella’s melancholy worsened, no doubt exacerbated by two miscarriages, an increasing dislike of sex, a difficult pregnancy and the traumatic birth of their daughter Maria Theresa, a hatred of the strict formality of the Austrian court and the death of Joseph’s other sister Johanna which only furthered Isabella’s obsession with death. Ultimately the story would have

a tragic ending; whilst six months pregnant Isabella was diagnosed with smallpox, which caused her to go into labour prematurely and on the 22nd November 1763 she gave birth to a daughter who died shortly afterwards. Her final act was to name her daughter Maria Christina. Isabella died less than a week later. Both Maria Christina and Joseph were heartbroken; the latter seemingly never recovered and for some time afterwards refused to even consider remarrying. Even after he did, he made it clear Isabella was the love of his life. Maria Christina also eventually married and had a long seemingly happy marriage. During the course of their relationship, Isabella and Maria Christina’s closeness was noted upon by their contemporaries although they were not explicitly accused of anything, until after Isabella’s letters became public. The letters are a fascinating insight into what was at a bare minimum unrequited love but may very possibly have been a great love story between two brilliant women, born into a society not ready for a relationship like theirs.

See more from Alexandra: @monstrouswomenofhistory THE HISTORIANS MAGAZINE


Early Gay and Lesbian Youth Groups in England. By Clifford Williams


ifty years ago, in 1972, the first recognised U.K. Gay Pride event was held in London. It was organised and attended by two movements: The Gay Liberation Front (GLF) and the Campaign for Homosexual Equality (CHE). About 700 people attended the march, at the time it was considered daring and risky to be open about being gay. Gay in the 1970s meant being lesbian or homosexual. Bisexual and trans people also joined the gay movements. Trans people at that time were either cross dressers (transvestites) or transexuals (people who had undergone a sex change). The word transgender did not exist, and the word queer was a term of insult and abuse. That is why many people dislike that term. In 1972 gay sex between two men, where both or either person was under 21, was illegal. Even cuddling and kissing in public by two men could lead to a court case and many gay men were arrested and taken to court for meeting other men in a public place for sex. Growing up as a gay teenager in the 1970s was usually a very lonely existence. There was no internet, no mobile phones, and there was very little published material that was



gay friendly. One of the few publications which catered for gay people was Gay News, a fortnightly newspaper. This was first published in June 1972. At its peak, it had a circulation of about 17,500 copies. Gay News contained listings of public houses where gays and lesbians were welcome, as well as local groups (mainly CHE) that met. There was also an advert section where individuals could seek to make contact with others. Those in rural areas and small towns were unlikely to ever see a copy of Gay News and even in the larger towns and cities very few places sold copies. WH Smith even banned its sale. CHE ran a campaign to lower the age of consent for gay sex to 16 (there were no laws prohibiting lesbian sex in private). Alongside that campaign, CHE also set up the first groups for under 21 gay youth. But many in CHE were nervous about that work as there was a threat of prosecution for ‘corrupting public morals’. With the reluctance of CHE to commit support to gay youth groups, Phillip Cox (1956-1992) and Paul Welch broke away from CHE and ran a group in London called the Gay Teenage Group. This unique and groundbreaking unofficial youth group was run by its members. It started meeting in premises in Holloway Road, London in 1976. Although some young women attended the LGTG, the need for a separate lesbian group was recognised and this was set up in 1979.

In 1979 the London Gay Teenage Group (LGTG) moved to premises in Manor Gardens, N 7. Today there is a pink plaque at the entrance to the Manor Gardens Centre (put up by Islington Pride). Gay News listed the LGTG and a few other gay youth groups that had started to emerge in cities like Liverpool, Manchester and Leicester. In recognition of the need for more gay youth groups, people like Micky Burbidge, a civil servant, established the Joint Council for Gay Teenagers (JCGT). The JCGT helped people to set up other gay youth groups around the country. After a couple of years, they handed over their role to a new voluntary organisation called the Gay Youth Movement (GYM). GYM catered for a wider age range and accepted young people up to the age of 26. Around the country some gay youth groups were set up for young people up to the age of 26 and in other areas, they were restricted, like the LGTG, to 16under 21-year-olds. The LGTG was officially recognised by the Inner London Education Authority in 1979. This enabled the group to apply for funding and in 1983 they appointed a parttime paid youth worker. However, the group was always led by the members. You can read much more about this topic in a new book: ‘Courage to Be: Organised Gay Youth in England 1967-1990’ by Clifford Williams. (The Book Guild ISBN 9781913913632.) Photo is Gay teenagers at Manor Gardens 1985 (photo courtesy Gregg Blachford)

Edward II: A Misunderstood Monarch By Chris Riley


dward II of England finds himself wedged between two of the most well known kings in British history. His father, Edward I and his son Edward III, both ruled through military might and the expected chivalric strength so dominant in the age of knights and fair ladies. Edward became king of England in 1307, inheriting his father’s crown but not his insatiable need to crush the Scots who had been at war with England for the best part of three decades. Edward showed neither an aptitude or an interest in war, choosing time with his controversial favourites, digging trenches, thatching roofs or spending time with the local merchants, spending a great deal of time mingling with the lower orders of society. Edward was undoubtedly a terrible king through military and political failings, but Edward also famously fostered relationships with young men such as the Gascon nobleman, Piers Gaveston. Gaveston was by all accounts, a handsome, intelligent man with charisma coming out of his ears, and used all of this to his advantage. The relationship turned heads due to its apparent sexual element, along side the lavish gifts and titles granted to Gaveston. The good times (for Edward and Piers) would soon end, and after a series of exiles, Piers Gaveston was executed in 1312 leaving Edward heart broken. Regardless whether the relationship was actually sexual, homophobia and jealousy cost Edward at very least a friend. Edward’s decision to keep men



like Gaveston so close, pushed other members of the court away, causing factions to rise against their King. Gaveston was not to be the only man in the King’s life but he was perhaps his one true love. By 1321, Edward had somewhat moved on and was now under the influence of another, one more powerful than before. Hugh de Spenser the younger was an awful, manipulative man who took advantage even more so than Gaveston, seeing a friendship and a manipulative love affair with the king as a fast track to the top, seizing castles and land along the Welsh border. Like Gaveston, de Spenser was showered with gifts and titles eating up the resources and the patience of the other leading nobles. Years of civil war erupted between Edward, de Spenser and the rest of the ruling elite, who again saw an upstart nobleman in the arms of the King. The undoubtedly disastrous friendship with de Spenser would eventually cost Edward both his crown and his life, as his wife Isabella of France and Roger Mortimer seized the crown in the name of Edward’s Son, the future Edward III. By 1326, less than 20 years after ascending to the throne, Edward II was removed from power and de Spenser was executed in a most brutal way, strapped to a ladder, disembowell and his genitals removed. Edward’s downfall was swift and painful, betrayed by his wife, his son on his throne and his favourite Hugh de Spenser executed as his estranged wife watched, Edward was likely in a depressed state. Edward was taken to Berkeley

Castle and this is where he lived out the rest of his life, dying in September of 1327 supposedly of ‘natural causes’ at the age of 43. Most scholars believe that Edward was murdered at the request of Roger Mortimer with some of the more depraved stories stating that Edward was killed when a red hot poker was thrust into his anus, a punishment likely in response to the kings apparent homosexuality. Edward may have been born to be king but his temperament and personality were not well suited for the crown. A mild mannered man with friends in low places, with a tendency to make very poor decisions when it came to who he politically and personally aligned with, not the qualities of a king in the 1300’s. Edward was most likely a pleasant man, taking a great interest in the lower levels of society with a lack of a greed for war, two characteristics that did not make him many friends in medieval England. Edward’s sexuality should not be factored into his poor and relatively short reign but his very nature meant he was doomed to fall before he even began. A man simply born in the wrong century. Photo is of A painting of Edward II and his Favourite, Piers Gaveston by

Marcus Stone. The painting shows courtiers gazing at the prince and his supposed lover in disgust.

See more from Chris: @chrisrileyhistory

Achilles and Patroclus – Homosexuality in Ancient Greece

By Edward Edge


he tale of Achilles and Patroclus is possibly the oldest, and most enduring, love story between two men that the world has ever known. Featured in the poet Homer’s The Iliad, the story goes that Achilles, the greatest hero on the Achean (Greek) side of the Trojan War, is angered by King Agamemnon claiming his slave and soon-to-be bride Briseis, for himself. As a result of this insult, Achilles refused to fight in the war, and soon, Ilios (alternative name for Troy) gained the upper hand. Patroclus, Achilles’ dearest friend, felt that there was pressure for Achilles to rejoin the fight and to help, he chose to take up his friend’s legendary armour and weapons, stepped out onto the field, and was cut down by Hector, one of Troy’s greatest of warriors. Achilles was so angered by the death of his friend that he rejoined the war and killed Hector. Achilles demonstrated his grief for Patroclus in a thousand ways, including fighting a river god. The epic is a beautiful display of the power of love, hate, war, honour, pride, tragedy, sacrifice, death, grief, and above all, forgiveness.

What this story seems to indicate is that as early as 725BC (estimated), homosexual relationships were a common occurrence across Ancient Greece. We cannot concretely say whether the nature of the relationship between the two men was sexual. Within The Iliad, sex or even romance is never explicitly alluded to. It is only ever indicated that the bond between the two men was deeply emotional Achilles and Patroclus are undoubtedly an example of how Greece and much of the Ancient Mediterranean accepted the idea of same-sex love. It was almost impossible not to. Bearing in mind that the Iliad is considered one of the most important Ancient Greek texts (some say it is the closest thing the Greeks had to the Bible), how widespread was this acceptance in Greece? Well, like most things in Ancient Greece, it very much depends on who you ask, but mostly on where you ask this question. Greece was a complicated, fractal land with many citystates, societal structures, and values. In some states of Greece, homosexuality of any kind was unacceptable, but to the more enlightened or tolerant states, same-sex pairing, especially in men, was seen not as an alternative to heterosexuality, but as a stepping stone on the path to manhood. As seen in the story of Achilles and Patroclus, the pair may have been lovers, and their bond may have been strong, but Achilles’ ultimate plan was to wed Briseis and start a family. Family was the most important, sacred institute in Ancient Greece. Any crime committed against it was the greatest offence to society and the Gods and was punished harshly, and it was considered the duty of all Greeks to have progeny and raise them to be strong. In some parts of Greece,

homosexual pairings between erastes (lovers) and younger eromenos (beloved) was the norm among the upper classes, but it was handled with strict rituality. The Thebans even made use of the strong bonds that often formed between the erastes and eromenos by using them together in combat. The Theban Sacred Band were renown for fighting fiercely to protect and impress their lovers, which Philip II of Macedon commended, saying “No one should consider these men guilty of any shameful act”. What this says about the society he was leading is open to interpretation. All-in-all, attitudes towards homosexuality in Ancient Greece boil down to a big, unsatisfying “It depends on who and where you ask it”. However you slice it, homosexual relationships were extremely different to how we view and accept them today, but what will undoubtedly endure, whichever way you interpret their relationship, is the bond that Achilles and Patroclus shared in the story, and how that bond cruelly sealed the fate of Greece’s most cherished mythological hero, only to be immortalised for all time in our memories.

See more from Edward: @history_for_writers



AN INTERVIEW WITH CHARLOTTE FURNESS Charlotte is an author, historian, and heritage researcher. Charlotte works within the country house and heritage industry, bringing forgotten or unknown stories to the attention of the public. Charlotte researchs and write books about women’s history, but also works with private country estates and other heritage organisations to conduct research, to write historical information, and to work with them on interpreting and presenting history to their audiences. Charlotte has a master’s degree in country house studies from the University of Leicester and has worked in heritage for over ten years both within visitor services, and now as a historian and writer. Charlotte lives in Huddersfield, and has worked locally with organisations to discover and present Yorkshire history, something she is also very passionate about.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your book ‘Unmarried women of the country estate? Sure! I am a writer and historian exploring women’s history in connection with country houses and other heritage locations. I am passionate about sharing women’s stories with people as so often they 28


have been ignored in traditional country house history. My book Unmarried Women came about because when I was researching my first book Lady of the House (a book about married women) I came across Elizabeth Isham at Lamport Hall – she was a remarkable woman, so I knew I wanted to write about her life. It also raised lots of questions about other unmarried women in the country house. – how did they live? What aided them to live unmarried? etc. I have aimed to answer some of those questions within the book.

How long did it take you to write the book? The process of researching and writing took just over a year, but I would say at least half of that time was researching. I am quite a quick writer and I get really sucked into the narrative, so I prefer to do all the research first, really get to know the person I’m writing about, and then just write their story all in one go.

You talk about Anne Lister in your book, was there any notion that the other women were gay/ potentially judged as gay by others because they didn’t go down the tradition of marrying a man? I think it’s a conclusion that people often jump to – if she didn’t get married, that must mean she isn’t interested in men, but that’s quite an old-fashioned view and one that I was keen to stay away from without hard proof. There were a vast number of reasons why women didn’t want to marry a man – religious, such as Elizabeth Isham who wanted to devote her life to God; familial, such as with Anne Robinson who put any ideas of marriage to one side to help raise her sister’s children; or simply because they didn’t need a husband, as was the case with Rosalie Chichester. Why would she marry a

man and give her wealth and home over to him, when she could live alone with her independence? Can you tell us some more about Anne Lister for those who don’t know about her? I chose Anne Lister for this book because, in the legal sense of the word in 19th century England, she was unmarried, a spinster and so that qualified her for the book. She was also a rich heiress and owned Shibden Hall, an estate in Halifax, West Yorkshire so she had financial and landowning independence. She is more famously known though for being a lesbian and recording her life in remarkable diaries which were hidden for almost a hundred years behind panelling in the Hall. In 1834 Anne was married to Ann Walker in a private ceremony where the two exchanged rings. They then took holy communion together at Holy Trinity Church in York and this was considered by the two women to be a marriage as binding as any between a man and a woman. I certainly consider Anne to have been married, but at the time it was not considered legally binding, and it was that interesting fact that led me to include her in the book. I wanted to discuss marriage and women’s rights in the 19th century from the perspective of an unusual character. When Anne died in 1840, she left Shibden Hall, her Halifax estate, to Ann, but it was contested by the Lister family and eventually overturned. What struck you most about Anne Lister’s story? For me it was the way that she lived her life – she wasn’t exactly open about her sexuality, but neither did she hide it. Most people in the area and within the social circles she moved in were aware that she preferred the company of women, and whilst Anne did note in her diaries that some people were judgmental or prejudiced, there were also some kind friends and family who accepted her completely.

She dressed in a way that flouted feminine convention, wearing top hats and waistcoats; she shot pistols, collected rents, opened an inn, ran a mine, negotiated coal prices, pressed her tenants to vote in elections, built and grew the Shibden estate and more. I wanted to know more about her life beyond her sexuality. Yes, it is a crucial part of who she was as a woman and it certainly impacted absolutely everything about her, but I also wanted to look at her work, her home life, her education to get a well-rounded sense of her character. How difficult was it to research Anne Lister for your book? Compared to other women in my book, it was actually quite easy and that is thankfully down to the really hard work of Helena Whitbread who is the absolute authority on the life of Anne Lister. She rediscovered Anne’s diaries in the archives in the 1980s and spent many years decoding the invented crypthand that Anne used for her writing. Without these translations, we wouldn’t know anywhere near as much about the life of Anne Lister, so it’s thanks to her hard work that I could then read through almost all ofAnne’s diary entries as well as

letters and other source material. That being said, it’s always hard to research a historical person – you’ve to dig into archives, follow clues and leads, read many books. It can be intimidating at times.

What was your favourite part about researching and writing the book and is there a favourite story/extract from Anne’s diary you have?

As Anne noted, ‘such is the fruit of a footpath so close to the house’.

My favourite part about writing my books is most definitely the research stage, when I’m looking for women to include in the manuscript and I’m following clues and leads to explore their lives, you can feel like a detective at times. Then, when you find letters or diaries by that person and you begin to know their personality, their sense of humour, it’s just wonderful, the person comes to life. On top of that, if you can then go to that person’s former home and walk the halls they lived in, see the room where they wrote letters, the roof they mended, the gardens they planted, it really brings them to life. I’m such a history nerd, I get so excited! There are two stories that really make me smile about Anne – the first was when she was practising with a new pistol and she said ‘it bounded out of my hand, forced itself thro’ the window, and broke the lead & panes of glass. My hand felt stunned for some time’. The second was when three ‘shabbylooking men’ were walking close by Shibden Hall in the early hours of the morning, making noise. Anne threatened them away from the house with her pistol by aiming it at them out of the cook’s bedroom.

Yes! In fact, I would love to write a whole book about LGBT history in connection with the country house as I don’t think that has been done before – looking at the lives of previous owners, both male and female, and how their position as gentry or heirs/heiresses impacted their ability to live and love how they wanted to. The pressures and expectations were incredibly high for male heirs of country estates, and then to add on the inability to live as their true authentic selves must have been so difficult. If we can talk about those stories now, then that’s something, but of course, we’ve lost so many letters and diaries that documented gay relationships because decedents often burned or destroyed them. That’s what makes Anne’s diaries so incredible – that they were saved!

Has it inspired you to try and research more LGBT stories?

See more from Charlotte: @charlottefurnesswriter

Were you able to visit Shibden Hall where Anne lived? Yes. Luckily, I live in Huddersfield which is only about a fifteen-minute drive from Shibden. In fact, as a child, I spent a lot of time at Shibden, at the park and wandering around the house. I have always been drawn to historical buildings and it’s such a privilege that we get to explore them.





here’s a line in Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) in which Freddie, played by Rami Malek, tells his girlfriend, Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton), that he thinks he’s bisexual. Mary’s response is, “Freddie, you’re gay.” For any queer person, someone else telling you your identity when you’ve thought about it for yourself is pretty heavily frowned upon. But, as a bi woman myself, this scene struck me in a way it probably wasn’t intended to, as I thought, oh so briefly, that finally, the media was starting to correct the problem of bi-erasure. It wasn’t to be, though, and I was left with a strong sense of disappointment and hurt. Freddie Mercury was, more than likely, bisexual. He had sentimental relationships with both men and women throughout his life, yet he has become one of the world’s most famous gay men. It’s true that his most noted relationship, and the one he was in at the time of his death, was with a man, but he also referred to Mary Austin as the ‘love of his life’, and an obituary described him as a ‘self-confessed bisexual’. So why do we still insist that Mercury was gay? It’s part of the long-standing issue of bi-erasure, in which sexuality is often condensed into gay or straight, black and white, with bisexuals being described as greedy or just going through a phase. And Freddie Mercury is just one example; David Bowie, Eleanor



Roosevelt, Oscar Wilde, and Frida Kahlo also number among bisexual figures whose identities have been erased or forgotten. The fight for bi recognition and visibility has been going on for many years. When Pride events started taking off in the 1980s and 1990s, there was a severe backlash to the inclusion of bisexual people, not only from outside the community, but from within it, too. In 1989, Northampton Lesbian and Gay Pride March became Northampton Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Pride March, and certain lesbian groups, in particular, took a stand against it. While some were in favour, others believed that bisexual people were a threat to lesbians and their inclusion would open the doors to a flood of people who were ‘living a heterosexual lifestyle’. A letterwriting campaign began and, just two years after the change, the word ‘Bisexual’ was once again removed from the march. Just as gay people have existed for centuries, so too have bisexual people, yet it is only within the last forty years that bisexuality has become ‘acceptable’, and even then, some bi people choose to hide their identities within the queer community to avoid discrimination. And it’s difficult to understand how Pride became so hostile to bisexual people—it began with a bisexual woman, after all. In July 1969, on the one month anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, Brenda Howard gathered a committee at the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop on Christopher Street, New York, where they planned the Christopher Street Liberation Parade. This was the first ‘Pride’, and Howard earned the moniker of the ‘Mother of Pride’. A year later, she organised another march, which was a roaring success, and since then, Pride events have been taking place around the globe. Howard was openly and unapologetically bisexual. Much of her time in the queer community was devoted to promoting the acceptance of bisexuality, and

in 1987, she founded the New York Area Bisexual Network. The Network co-ordinated services for bisexual people, and up to the present day, it is responsible for connecting bisexual people in the Tri-State area. It’s an especially honourable mission, as bisexual is sometimes a lonely thing to be— there are very few bisexual spaces, and with rampant biphobia and bi-erasure still happening, it’s often easier to continue to hide. Howard was also an active member of Bialogue, one of New York’s earliest bisexual political groups, and she founded the United States’ first Alcoholics Anonymous chapter for bisexuals. Brenda Howard was a role model for the bisexual community. She was proud and certain of herself, and she did everything she could and more to make sure bisexual people were just as welcome in Pride as gay people were. It is sad, then, how quickly bisexuality became taboo again, and how it is still an ongoing problem today. So, next time someone asks why Pride exists, or why Pride Month is June, tell them, ‘A bisexual woman named Brenda Howard thought it should be.’

See more from Holly: @historicallywoman



he Prisoner of War performers of Cottbus are often seen dressed as women. Be them showcasing a comedy, drama, or posing for the camera a majority of the images associated with the Cottbus Prison Camp of World War I is detailed by the act of drag. The Prisoners of War and performers, both in and out of drag, depict a far greater atmosphere of the Cottbus camp where both soldier and prisoner work to assert control over their very out-of-control lives through the performance of drag. Men performing as women is not a new nor unique phenomenon. Yet, the gender-bent performances seen in the Cottbus POWs are distinctly more than just dressing up. Appearing in multiple postcards, and referenced in official government documents, the gender-bending activities were an integral aspect in the lives of POWs at Cottbus, and the performances to be a form of drag. Drag “complicates the distinction between readable exteriors and stable identities, confusing the “essence” or a particular body.” The performance,

both on stage and off, was a reassertion of control over their bodies. “Being a prisoner of war could indeed be an emasculating experience. In times of war, the front-line soldier is the epitome of masculinity, and the presence of armed guards and barbed wire as well as the letters ‘P/W’ stenciled on their clothes constantly reminded the Germans that they no longer belonged to this group.” As men whose “essence” can be stripped away in war and imprisonment, where their bodies were in constant flux, the performance of drag recreated a sense of control over their bodies and identities. Performing both drama and comedy [see Figure III, VI, and V] the prisoners took their drag to different extremes of the human experience utilizing detailed staging and costuming. Drag, traditionally conceptualized as “conspicuous displays of glamor” the performances of the drag performers of Cottbus leaned distinctly towards the glamor of normalcy. Through their performances, both gender-bent and not the POWs attempt to glamorize normalcy by creating a new normal. The continued act of performance, either in posing for the camera, or performing for a crowd is a form of drag for the POWs. Seen clearly in Figure II where a British couple poses before an image of Cliffs of Dover. This couple embraces the more traditional sense of drag where they not only gender-bend a “typical” day, but the performers also utilize the costumes to enhance the performance of drag. Their costumes, one is dressed in a hobble skirt and the other in evening wear with a top hat, would have been “normal” if not the high of fashion but is dated in comparison to what fashion standards of when the performance occurred which exaggerates the overall performance of normalcy. The performers continually deconstruct ideas of power and identity assigned to them in war, by reconstructing the most pristine ideas of normalcy

shaped by their time imprisoned “To the extent that drag’s marginal play problematizes cultural categories, we can appreciate its parody and subversion as an “act of resistance.” In crafting identities that appeared to transcend the stage, the war, and imprisonment drag itself was an act of rebellion in all the ways that it mattered. Looking at one of the informal images of the Cottbus prisoners, “Four British Prisoners of War” in Fig. VII, the intricacies of the drag performance were stripped away. While two POWs appear as women, the costuming and sets are not as detailed as their performances could be. These performers are innating a performance of normalcy and in it an act of rebellion. In a space and time which “reflected the acute sense of masculine disempowerment” under the circumstances of captivity the act of the performance of drag no matter how simple provided a rebellion in control over bodily autonomy. Moreso, the act of drag created “some semblance of a decent life” for the men. The performance of drag created a liberation inside a stifling space. Drag in Cottbus was far more than just entertainment. The act of drag became a liberating escapist fantasy that ordered the chaos of their worlds. The fantasies created were simple walks on the beach or holding a lover’s hand was the extent of fantasy allowed in times of war and imprisonment. The men of the Cottbus camp reconstructed their freedom and their identity in the costumes, wigs, and makeup which informed their drag. For those who watched and participated in the exercise and performance of drag became a place to exercise control and power in placeless where they had none. Drag created a world defined by the performers and their performance, the prison camp of Cottbus became a world defined by drag. See more from Izzy: @izzy_mcmillan_ THE HISTORIANS MAGAZINE


SHEDDING LIGHT ON MEDIEVAL LGBTQ+ By Ben Norman Warning: this article contains primary source material that readers may find upsetting. I have included it in the belief that, if we are to build as honest an understanding of how the past has shaped the present, then we should not shy away from uncomfortable history.


sk people what springs to mind on the topic of early LGBTQ+ history, and classicists might point to heady days of Ancient Greece, when homosexuality was arguably more normalised in European society than at any time subsequently until the 21st century. Some might warmly refer specifically to the homoerotic verses of 6th century BC poet Sappho from the island of Lesbos. Others might recall late medieval/ early modern British monarchs whose preferences were revealed by their same-sex favourites at court. That would certainly be a starting point for me, having, as an undergraduate, picked up a copy of James Graham’s “The Homosexual Kings of England”, which delved into the available intimate evidence of the private lives of William Rufus, Richard I, Edward II, Richard II, James I and William



III. The narratives relating to these kings – certainly with respect to their sexuality – has generally been negative. Notably the brutal death of Edward II, who was murdered when a red-hot poker was thrust into his rectum, is a clear allusion to his sexual preference and contemporaries’ intolerance of it. What happened between these two periods? As always, any evidence from early medieval times is patchy. Take, for example, Patrick Higgins’ seminal “A Queer Reader”, in which he edits together source materials to tell the story of male homosexuality from the time of the Greeks onwards. Higgins skips briskly from a range of 1st/2nd century (AD) Roman evidence through to the 11th century. In the intervening millennium, his only reference is an oblique extract from a poem by Ennodius (c.473-521 AD), Bishop of Pavia (in modern-day Italy),: “There is a constant deception at play in his double sex: He’s a woman when passive, but when active in shameful deeds, he’s a man.” Look to the societies in the early Caliphates in the Middle East, and there is clear evidence of various dimensions of LGBTQ+. For instance, prolific historian al-Tabari (839923AD), citing earlier historians, relates how Umayyad Caliph Hisham (724-743AD) “went on a pilgrimage. Al-Abrash [Hisham’s Secretary] took along some ‘mukhannaths’ [defined as neither entirely male or female] who had guitars with them. Hisham said: ‘Imprison them and sell their possessions…and put the proceeds in the treasury. If they mend their ways, return the money to them.’ ”A far more chillingly homophobic episode occurred during the reign of Abbasid Caliph Musa al-Hadi (764-786AD). Citing earlier historian Ali b. Mohammed, Tabari points to how Al-Hadi was “in the company of his companions … and had with him a eunuch carrying a dish covered over with a napkin. … He said to the eunuch, ‘Take off the napkin’…and behold, the dish held the heads of two slave girls. … We found this

horrific sight. … The Caliph said ‘We received information that they were in love with each other, and had got together for an immoral purpose. So I set this eunuch to watch over them … . He informed me that they had got together, so I went and found them under a single coverlet committing an immoral act. I thereupon killed them.’ ” These episodes – the double execution especially – make for deeply uncomfortable reading. Could the horror recorded among Caliph al-Hadi’s companions imply that broader society was more inclusive? What is clear is that even if there was extreme intolerance from the Caliph himself, individuals in society were not dissuaded from expressing and acting upon their sexuality. Certainly, there is evidence of Sufi mystics at the time singing homoerotic lyrics – “gazing upon a beardless youth”. And the poet Abu Nuwas (c.756-814AD) was quite comfortable describing his love of young (male) chancery secretaries and monastic novices in his verses. Indeed, this was not an uncommon practice in 9th century Abbasid society – including among married men. Albeit that status mattered in these relationships: there was definitely a stigma attached to those regarded as the socially inferior homosexual partners. It is clear, then, that anyone who identifies as LGBTQ+ nowadays would have faced a hostile environment in medieval Europe and the Middle East. And yet the very fact that there is this evidence at all is indicative of a surreptitiously thriving medieval LGBTQ+ scene.

Ben originally studied history. He now works in public policy supporting low-income countries in their development. Find him on Instagram @gooodbanker



ettice Annie Floyd was a British suffragette who was known for her openly queer relationship with fellow suffragette Annie Williams. Annie Williams was the organiser for the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), she was also imprisoned twice and awarded a Hunger Strike Medal.

The two met in August 1908 when Lettice Annie Floyd was in Bristol, working alongside suffragettes Mary Blathwayt and Annie Kenney. Annie Williams had travelled from Cornwall to help the WSPU campaign. After meeting the two became lifelong campaigners. In November 1908, Williams wrote from Cranlock, Newquay to Lettice Floyd, who was then serving a sentence in Holloway Prison, London, but the letter was returned as the prison governor said she was ‘not entitled’ to receive it. At the time lesbian relationships were not seen as real relationships and being gay was illegal in Britain. From 1910–1911, Williams lived in Newcastle organising for the byelection campaign for the WSPU , Lettice Floyd moved up from the Midlands to be with her. At the start of World War One, when all suffrage activism campaigns were called off, in order to help with the war effort, Williams and Lettice Floyd moved from Cardiff to Berkswell, where their relationship continued. Their relationship lasted from 1908 to Floyd’s death in 1934. Williams was at her side when Lettice Floyd died in hospital in Birmingham

after surgery in 1934. She inherited £3000 and annual income of £300 from Floyds will. The second set of lesbian suffragettes I will look at in this article are Evelina Haverfield and Vera ‘Jack’ Holme. They were a fairly open couple and actually had each other’s initials carved into their bed. Vera Holme gained the name ‘Jack’ from her work as an actor where she took on a male impersonator and adopted a masculine style of dress and short hair. She also held the role of chauffeur for the Pankhurst family. During the suffrage Era, Vera ‘Jack’ Holme began an important love relationship with Lady Evelina Haverfield that lasted until Eve’s death in 1920. Unfortunately, no letters have survived, and their relationship must be reflected through the little evidence that survived, with one important piece being a love poem from Holme to Haverfield. During 1918, Holme’s relationship with Haverfield had cooled and an affair began between Scottish artist Dorothy Johnstone

and Vera ‘Jack’ Holme. Haverfield had a ‘friendship’ with Vera ‘Jack’ Holme who lived with her in Devon from 1911. This relationship was quite possibly more like a marriage, as a year after moving in, Holme made Haverfield her sole heir in her will. In 1921, Haverfield’s will was refuted by her husband. In the will Holme was left £50 a year for life by Haverfield. The role of LGBT women within the suffrage movement is a story that until more recently has been left out of the history books. Recently, there has been more attention paid to the relationships the women mentioned in this article, and many more had. These examples of lesbian relationships are a fundamental part of who the women were and played a role in their fight for women’s suffrage.

See more from Charis:: @that_historygirl