Wolfenden’s Witnesses

Homosexuality in Postwar Britain

  • Brian Lewis

Part of the Genders and Sexualities in History book series (GSX)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xi
  2. Introduction

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
    2. Brian Lewis
      Pages 3-10
  3. The Witnesses

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 11-11
    2. Brian Lewis
      Pages 13-102
    3. Brian Lewis
      Pages 103-201
    4. Brian Lewis
      Pages 202-232
    5. Brian Lewis
      Pages 233-257
  4. The Wolfenden Report

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 259-259
    2. Brian Lewis
      Pages 261-276
  5. Back Matter
    Pages 277-316

About this book


The Wolfenden Report of 1957 has long been recognized as a landmark in moves towards gay law reform. What is less well known is that the testimonials and written statements of the witnesses before the Wolfenden Committee provide by far the most complete and extensive array of perspectives we have on how homosexuality was understood in mid-twentieth century Britain. Those giving evidence, individually or through their professional associations, included a broad cross-section of official, professional and bureaucratic Britain: police chiefs, policemen, magistrates, judges, lawyers and Home Office civil servants; doctors, biologists (including Alfred Kinsey), psychiatrists, psychoanalysts and psychotherapists; prison governors, medical officers and probation officers; representatives of the churches, morality councils and progressive and ethical societies; approved school headteachers and youth organization leaders; representatives of the army, navy and air force; and a small handful of self-described but largely anonymous homosexuals. This volume presents an annotated selection of their voices.


Homosexuality gender studies Wolfenden Report Britain gender history law modern history reform social history social science sociology World History

Authors and affiliations

  • Brian Lewis
    • 1
  1. 1.McGill UniversityMontrealCanada

Bibliographic information