Fanny & Stella by Neil Mckenna

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What makes this book such a startling read is the way that McKenna recreates the affective world of Stella, Fanny and their "sisters", a loose cohort of half a dozen young gay men, some of whom stood trial.
-Guardian

Synopsis

28th April 1870. Fanny and Stella, the flamboyantly dressed Miss Fanny Park and Miss Stella Boulton, are causing a stir in the Strand Theatre. All eyes are riveted upon their lascivious oglings of the gentlemen in the stalls. Moments later they are led away by the police. What followed was a scandal that shocked and titillated Victorian England in equal measure.

It turned out that the alluring Miss Fanny Park and Miss Stella Boulton were no ordinary young women. Far from it. In fact, 'Boulton and Park' were young men who liked to dress as women. When the Metropolitan Police launched a secret campaign to bring about their downfall, they were arrested and subjected to a sensational show trial in Westminster Hall.

As the trial of 'the Young Men in Women's Clothes' unfolded, Fanny and Stella's extraordinary lives as wives and daughters, actresses and whores were revealed to an incredulous public.

With a cast of peers, politicians and prostitutes, drag queens, doctors and detectives, Fanny and Stella is a Victorian peepshow, exposing the startling underbelly of nineteenth-century London. By turns tragic and comic, meticulously researched and dazzlingly written, Fanny and Stella is an enthralling tour-de-force.

 

About Neil Mckenna

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Neil McKenna is an award-winning journalist who has written for the Independent, the Observer, the Guardian and the New Statesman. He is a former deputy editor of Elle Decoration and worked as an editor for Channel 4. He has also worked extensively in the gay press where he is known for initiating the campaign for gay law reform in the Isle of Man and leading the fight against Clause 25. He is the author of two ground-breaking books about male homosexuality and Aids in the developing world: On the Margins (1996) and The Silent Epidemic (1998). His debut biography, The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde, was published in 2003 to wide acclaim.
 
Published January 25, 2013 by Faber & Faber. 413 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, Health, Fitness & Dieting, Professional & Technical, Gay & Lesbian, Travel. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Fanny & Stella
All: 2 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 0

Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Kathryn Hughes on Jan 25 2013

What makes this book such a startling read is the way that McKenna recreates the affective world of Stella, Fanny and their "sisters", a loose cohort of half a dozen young gay men, some of whom stood trial.

Read Full Review of Fanny & Stella | See more reviews from Guardian

Toronto Star

Good
Reviewed by Nancy Wigston on Jul 26 2013

McKenna’s narrative...ends on an unexpectedly upbeat note. Where we expect to find martyrs to Victorian hypocrisy, we find fully realized human beings: both Fanny and Stella are well worth our cheers.

Read Full Review of Fanny & Stella | See more reviews from Toronto Star

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