Fanny and Stella
The gripping story of the trial that shook Victorian England - a tale of cross-dressing, cross-examinations and the invention of camp.
Fanny and Stella - two very alluring ladies-about-town - were not ordinary young women. They were young men who liked to dress as women: Ernest Boulton and Frederick Park, a bank clerk and solicitor respectively, 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 ...
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.
Neil McKenna in Conversation
Praise for Fanny and Stella
'[A] rollicking account of the trial of two middle-class Victorian cross-dressers.' Sunday Times (Must Reads)
'McKenna does an excellent job of dusting [Fanny and Stella] down for the 21st century, testing the limits of his documentary source material and showing what happens when the biographer allows himself the licence to go inside his subject's head ... Purists and puritans may balk at the book, both its tone and its way of proceeding. But everyone else will have a ball.' Guardian (read the full review)
- For more on Fanny and Stella including extra un-published material visit Neil McKenna's website.
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