Originally passed in 1885, the law that had made homosexual relations a crime remained in place for 82 years. But during this time, restrictions on same-sex relationships did not go unchallenged. Between 1891 and 1908, three books on the nature of homosexuality appeared.
They were written by two homosexual men: Edward Carpenter and John Addington Symonds, and a third, Havelock Ellis. At this time, the study of homosexuality was limited almost exclusively to the European continent. Books that were circulated freely in Europe were hardly known in England, and men who loved men were pushed to the margins of a society where masculinity was strenuously upheld.
Carpenter and Symonds' story and their brave stand against persecution is largely forgotten, but in such a hostile environment, their publications were highly significant. They were the first English contributions to the scientific understanding of homosexuality, and, more importantly, opened the long struggle for the legal recognition of same-sex love that was finally achieved in 1967. The Fraternity of the Estranged will speak principally to the LGBT community and, in a time more accepting of sexual diversity, to a wider readership.
It will also appeal to readers interested in history as it recounts what it was like to be homosexual in late-Victorian England.
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