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Closet Queens : Some 20th Century British Politicians (Paperback)


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Product Description

In 'Closet Queens', biographer Michael Bloch turns his attention to the men of British politics who were forced to lead double lives, from Lord Rosebery and Lord Beauchamp in Edwardian times to Michael Portillo and Peter Mandelson in our own era. Outwardly conforming to the requirements of heterosexual middle class society, many twentieth-century British politicians had illicit, clandestine and often thrilling queer sex lives. Some sought relationships with men of their own class, others with 'rough trade' and some confined themselves to fleeting, anonymous encounters in public places.

After the Sexual Offences Act of 1967 decriminalised sexual acts in private between consenting males, the great fear of closet queens was not of prosecution in the courts but exposure in the press, leading some men to continue to repress their sexuality in order to realise their ambitions. Bloch examines politicians who were either homosexual, or not straighforwardly heterosexual. Along such colourful characters as Bob Boothby and Tom Driberg, Norman St John-Stevas and Jeremy Thorpe (whom Bloch has also written a full biography of) are some surprising names, including Winston Churchill, who disliked women and was inspired by the company of personable young men.

''A hugely entertaining book... In my experience, homosexuals have a gift for seeing homosexuality everywhere, yet after reading Michael Bloch's survey I am retrospectively more persuaded... Bloch juggles the skills of lock-picker, outrageous gossip and historian. The result is unflaggingly absorbing'' ― The Daily Telegraph

''Michael Bloch's publishers did well to get Matthew Parris to give his imprimatur to this book. It could easily have been a sleazy parade of salacious innuendo, but Bloch is a scrupulous historian... Bloch shows that there was a far more extensive network of covert homosexuality than has hitherto been recognised, and there is no longer any need for reticence in admitting it'' ― The Independent

Author : Michael Bloch,    Foreword by Michael Parris

Paperback, 320 pages, Orig. Publ. 2015, This Edition Publ. July 2017

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