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Neil McKenna: Fanny and Stella

Neil McKenna: Fanny and Stella

The Young Men Who Shocked Victorian England. UK 2013, 396 pp. illustrated, pp, € 19.95
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Faber and Faber
This is the story of the trial that shook Victorian England - a tale of cross-dressing, cross-examination and the invention of camp. Fanny and Stella were no ordinary young women. They were young men who liked to dress as women: Frederick Park and Ernest Boulton, two young clerks, part-time actresses and part-time prostitutes. Stella was the most beautiful female impersonator of her day, Fanny her inseparable companion. 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. If found guilty, they faced life imprisonment. With a cast of peers, politicians and prostitutes, drag queens, doctors and detectives, this book is a Victorian peepshow, exposing the underbelly of 19th-century London.
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