Highly prominent, scandalous and infrequent trials for the ‘unnatural’ and ‘nameless’ crime of sodomy in the late nineteenth century have attracted a great deal of historiographical attention. Until very recently, significant historical analyses have been based on the proceedings and reportage of no more than three trials of this kind, occurring between 1871 and 1895. Historians of British homosexuality have tended to concentrate upon the ‘Stella and Fanny’ trial of 1871, the Cleveland Street scandal in 1889, and the trials of Oscar Wilde in 1895. These trials, involving men of the highest social visibility and status in late Victorian society, have formed the bases of arguments relating to formations of homosexual identities and perceptions of homosexuality in British society. The ‘Stella and Fanny’ trials of 1870 and 1871 were conducted following the arrest of two cross-dressed actors, Ernest Boulton and William Park. As the case against Boulton and Park emerged, it transpired that Boulton, or ‘Stella’, was probably having a sodomitical relationship with Lord Arthur Clinton, MP. The case attracted widespread newspaper coverage.


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