LGBTQ history – The British Newspaper Archive Blog

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Exploring Evolving Attitudes To Oscar Wilde In The Years After His Death

On 1 December 1900 the Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette reported on ‘The Death of Mr Oscar Wilde:’ The Paris correspondent of the Dublin Evening Mail telegraphs that Mr Oscar Wilde died yesterday at three o’clock in the Latin Quartier. He had been suffering for some time. Two days ago he became unconscious. Six weeks ago he underwent an operation, which appeared to have been successful, but a complication which followed proved fatal. The death of the poet, playwright and novelist

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‘The Most Talked Of Woman In England’ – Roberta Cowell In Our Newspapers

In March 1954 news broke that former Second World War fighter pilot and racing driver Roberta Cowell (1918-2011) had become the first known British transgender woman to undergo gender affirmation surgery, an important part of British LGBTQ+ history. Roberta Cowell, or Betty as she was known to her friends, soon became the ‘most talked of woman in England,’ making headlines across national and regional newspapers. And the way that Roberta used print media to tell her own story is a story in

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Celebrating The First 20 Years of Pride in The United Kingdom

The events of the early hours of 28 June 1969 in Greenwich Village, New York, where LGBTQ+ patrons of the Stonewall Inn fought back against police violence, would reverberate not only across the United States, but the world, and mark an important turning point in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights. The Stonewall riots in turn led to the birth of the Pride movement, where members of the gay and lesbian community took to the streets to demand an end to

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Hot Off The Press – New Titles This Week

This week we are delighted to welcome 69,150 brand new pages to The Archive, with the addition of one very special brand new title from London. Meanwhile, we have updated twelve of our existing titles, with updates to our newspapers from Scotland, Wales and England, as well as to one our of special political titles. Meanwhile, this week marks 125 years since writer Oscar Wilde was released from prison, having been sentenced to two years’ hard labour for ‘gross indecency’ in 1895. So read on to discover all about our new

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Celebrating Vesta Tilley and Other Incredible Male Impersonators

Vesta Tilley, Annie Hindle, Hetty King and Ella Shields – just a few of the incredible male impersonators who were the superstars of their day. In music halls across the world, from London to Baltimore, from South Africa to Australia, these pioneering women hit the heights of fame during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Music Hall and Theatre Review | 12 June 1896 In this special blog, we will celebrate the legacies of these early drag kings, exploring their

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From ‘Disorderly Persons’ to Drag Queens – A Look At Gender Identity Across Three Centuries

We continue to celebrate Pride Month here at the British Newspaper Archive with this special blog exploring gender identity from the 1700s right up until the 1960s. Using newspapers taken from three different centuries, this blog will show how gender identity has always been fluid, and how members of the LGBTQ community have faced both persecution and prosecution for expressing their identity through how they dressed and presented themselves. ‘Extraordinary Discovery – A Woman Dressed in Man’s Clothes’ | Illustrated Police

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18th Century Molly Houses – London’s Gay Subculture

  June is Pride Month. At The Archive, we are delving into the newspapers and pulling out the breadth of LGBTQ history available. Register now and explore The Archive 18th Century Gay Subculture 18th century London was home to a flourishing gay subculture with Molly Houses at the centre of the social scene. ‘Molly’ was a slur used for effeminate, homosexual men and the term was adopted to describe the clubs, taverns, inns, or coffee houses where they met up

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‘The Well of Loneliness’ – An LGBTQ Book on Trial

In 1928, novelist Radclyffe Hall published her seminal LGBTQ work The Well of Loneliness. Following the story of Stephen Gordon, an upper-class woman who finds love with one Mary Llewellyn and is consequently shunned by society, the work was groundbreaking in its lesbian subject matter. Radclyffe Hall | Graphic | 30 April 1927 Although it was received favourably by many publications including the Daily Herald and Lady’s Pictorial, Sunday Express editor James Douglas began a campaign on 18 August 1928 to have Hall’s book banned – naming The

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The ‘Sensational’ Trial of Oscar Wilde – Reports of Ignominy, Shame and Tragedy

Described at the time in the pages of the Western Mail as ‘one of the most sensational events in the criminal annals of England,’ the arrest and prosecution of Oscar Wilde on charges of ‘gross indecency’ is a tragic chapter in LGBTQ history, and represents the wider persecution faced by the LGBTQ community at the time, as well as throughout the ensuing decades. Oscar Wilde | Illustrated London News | 27 February 1892 In this special blog, we will explore how newspapers at

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Guest Post: From Cupid’s Messenger to The Link – How Did LGBTQ People Meet in the Early 20th Century?

As part of our celebration of Pride Month, we are delighted to welcome a very special guest post from Vicky Iglikowski-Broad, who works as the Principal Diverse Histories Records Specialist at The National Archives. In this blog, Vicky Iglikowski-Broad explores one of the latest specialist titles to be added to the British Newspaper Archive, namely Link. Read on to discover more. Register now and explore The Archive Amongst the myriad of publications that developed in the early 20th century was a curious little

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