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Fanny and Stella 28th April 1870. 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. Full description
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Rich and absorbing ... McKenna has done a tremendous job of recreating Victorian London's gay subculture, weaving newspaper reports, police documents and contemporary diaries into a jolly rollicking narrative. It would be an understatement to call it a colourful book ... Fanny and Stella is a cracking read. Source: Sunday Times
Uproarious ... McKenna relates their astonishing story with meticulously researched relish ... McKenna captures their arrest with the same joie de vivre as Stella and Fanny lived their tumultuous lives: a blur of petticoats, shrieks and confusion ... It's a wonderful, gripping and moving story, including a pithy epilogue revealing what happened next to the major players. Tim Burton or Baz Luhrmann must make this into a film. Source: The Times
Very seductive. McKenna is rightly confident of the appeal of his funny, dramatic and secretly quite significant story. Source: Financial Times
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.
His writing has much of the performative element that characterised Stella and Fanny's appearances on the streets of London and in provincial halls. Showy as a feather boa, McKenna's text takes pleasure in its own silly excess ... Purists and puritans may balk at the book, both its tone and its way of proceeding. But everyone else will have a ball.
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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