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Forbidden Lives

Norena Shopland
ISBN-13: 
9781781724101
Publication Date: 
Friday, November 17, 2017
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‘Norena Shopland has lovingly trawled the Welsh archives for evidence of past lives lived in society’s shadows; the stories herein are both inspiring and heartbreaking in equal measure.’
– 
Buzz Magazine
 

Forbidden Lives is a fascinating collection of portraits and discussions that aims to populate LGBT gaps in the history of Wales, a much neglected part of Welsh heritage. In it Norena Shopland reviews the reasons for this neglect while outlining the activity behind the recent growth of the LGBT profile here. She also surveys LGBT people and their activity as far back as Giraldus Cambrensis’ Journey Through Wales in the twelfth century where he reports on ‘bearded women’ and other hermaphrodites. Other subjects include Edward II and Hugh DeSpenser, seventeenth century poet Katherine Philips, the Ladies of Llangollen, Henry Paget, artists Gwen John and Cedric Morris, and actor Cliff Gordon.

Shopland also identifies the strong Welsh connections to the exploration of homosexuality and transgender during the twentieth century, highlighting the contributions of John Randell, AE Dyson and Griff Vaughan Williams, and MPs Desmond Donnelly and Leo Abse. They helped to transform social and legal attitudes towards LGBT people across the whole of Britain, particularly in the post-war period, which created the more accepting culture present today. There is still plenty of work to do, as chapters on the responses to Pride in Wales and the first gay play, We All Fall Down, clearly show. But the stories of the people portrayed in this book are less likely to be repeated: the LGBT community has moved from living forbidden lives to a place largely less forbidding. Norena Shopland helps us understand the struggle which achieved these changes.

 

 

REVIEWS

Review by Chris Andrews, Buzz Magazine

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

An important and largely untold part of LGBT history is captured perfectly in Forbidden Lives: LGBT Stories From Wales.

In a time where LGBT people are accepted more than ever (though there is still work to be done), it’s important that the stories of those who paved the way are remembered.

Author Norena Shopland has lovingly trawled the Welsh archives for evidence of past lives lived in society’s shadows; the stories herein are both inspiring and heartbreaking in equal measure. One of the more famous stories within the book is that of the Ladies Of Llangollen, two aristocratic ladies who fell in love in the late 1700s and had to escape to Wales to be together.

Elsewhere, the question of heteronormativity is raised and examined in the case of Peggy Evans, who was known to be the greatest hunter and fisher of her time as well as being a blacksmith, boatbuilder, and maker of harps. Her like was virtually unheard of for women of the era.

In more recent times, anyone living in Cardiff will already be aware of the annual Pride March, but were you aware that after the inaugural marches in the 1980s, it actually was outlawed for a number of years?

Going beyond the well-publicised stories of Gareth Thomas, Ivor Novello, and more recent gay icons, Forbidden Lives digs deep into Welsh history and finds some truly inspirational characters. There are lessons to be learned from our past and Shopland has done a fantastic job of bringing them together in this book.

User Reviews

Rosie Johns's picture

Rosie Johns

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‘This is an outstanding piece of work which provides a detailed insight into the queer past of Welsh people. With an engaging style and a concrete historical foundation, this book illuminates some of the stories we might already have heard of, and many more we didn't know, about people in Wales who can be classified as LGBT+. Thoroughly entertaining and very thought-provoking, a real page-turner of a book that brings hidden history to light. A must-read for anyone interested in Welsh history, LGBT+ identities and stories, and life in general.’ – WriterAl (Amazon review)

18/04/2018 - 10:10

Comments

Rosie Johns's picture

Rosie Johns

0
No votes yet

‘This is an outstanding piece of work which provides a detailed insight into the queer past of Welsh people. With an engaging style and a concrete historical foundation, this book illuminates some of the stories we might already have heard of, and many more we didn't know, about people in Wales who can be classified as LGBT+. Thoroughly entertaining and very thought-provoking, a real page-turner of a book that brings hidden history to light. A must-read for anyone interested in Welsh history, LGBT+ identities and stories, and life in general.’ – WriterAl (Amazon review)

18/04/2018 - 10:10
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