Gay and Lesbian, History, Reviews

Review: Houlbrook, Queer London

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With topics like same-sex marriage, adoption rights, and other queer issues taking center stage in much of the current political, religious, and social debate, Matt Houlbrook’s Queer London: Perils and Pleasures in the Sexual Metropolis 1918-57 delivers a timely and significant back-story to the role of queer sexualities in modern culture. A recent review in the London Review of Books applauds Houlbrook’s work in its attempt to deconstruct some of the modern preconceptions of the historical role of homosexuality in one of its modern urban meccas:

Matt Houlbrook’s impressive study of queer life in London between 1918 and 1957 does much to revise our understanding of homosexuality in that period. Coverage of recent changes in the law has tended to portray the 20th century as a time of darkness, in which gay men struggled to escape the shadow of Oscar Wilde’s imprisonment; Queer London complicates that account. Houlbrook’s story is lucid, subtle and at times very funny.

A history remarkable in its complexity yet intimate in its portraiture, Queer London is a landmark work that redefines queer urban life in England and beyond.
Read an excerpt.