Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Fanny and Stella are Fellas

fanny-&-stella Gwen alerted me to a new book about the crossdressing scandal that rocked Victorian Great Britain. Fanny and Stella: The Young Men Who Shocked Victorian England is the title of the book and here is Amazon.com's description:

"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, they 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."

It sounds like a very interesting read. February 7 is the book's publication date.


  1. It does sound very interesting. I don't remember hearing of this case before, but I'll definitely be looking forward to the book.

  2. Thanks for the heads up. The book is available for pre-order on Kindle and I ordered it. There is a Wikipedia article on the case, which seems reasonably good.

    My reviewing of that led me to Martine Rothblatt, whose book "From Transgender to Transhuman: A Manifesto On the Freedom Of Form" is also available on Kindle.

    And that had a reference to Theodore Sturgeon's book, Venus Plus X, which I remember fondly from my younger days. Unfortunately, my paperback copy is buried away and it's not available on Kindle. :(

  3. There was an old person of Sark
    who buggered a pig in the dark,
    the pig in surprise
    murmured 'God blast your eyes,
    do you take me for Boulton or Park?'

    a limerick of the time.
    Case well(ish) known in UK. They were tried for conspiring to commit an unnatural offence, i.e. sodomy, but were acquitted for lack of evidence. Three years later Boulton was on the New York stage (as Ernest Byne) in drag parts. Park died age 33 in 1881, Boulton lived until Dec 1904

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  5. Boulton and Park are pictured several times in this book:


    The same author has written a series of works about femulation. Follow the links from http://www.gender.org.uk/gendys/bookshop/farrer.htm

  6. I received my copy on my Kindle account a couple days ago and have read the first 10 chapters. It is fascinating reading. Chapter 9 about the methods used for cross-dressing in 1870 is especially interesting.

    One method of enhancing the breasts involved using boiled sheep's lungs and there is a reported complaint from one user that "a cat had eaten one of his breasts".

    There are discussions of visiting shops to try on clothing, or for the less bold, pretty much anything could be obtained by mail order from a profusion of magazines and newspaper advertisements.

    A special bonus is several pages of photographs of Fanny and Stella.

    There is a review on the Guardian at http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/jan/25/fanny-stella-neil-mckenna-review