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Fanny and Stella

Neil McKenna

Fanny and Stella, by Neil McKenna, is the gripping story of the trial that shook Victorian England – a tale of cross-dressing, cross-examinations and the invention of camp.

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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.

Critic Reviews

Praise for The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde:

'A groundbreaking new biography ... An entertaining and fascinating (sometimes jaw-dropping) insight into Victorian homosexual practices.' Observer

'A superb new portrait of the secret life of one of the 19th century's most tragic and beguiling figures.' Washington Post

'Intriguing and entertaining ... McKenna makes an impassioned case for re-gaying Wilde.' The Times


Neil McKenna is an award-winning journalist and author of the acclaimed Secret Life of Oscar Wilde.

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