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In the 1940s, it was believed that homosexuality had been becoming more widespread in the aftermath of war. A moral panic ensued, centred around London as the place to which gay men gravitated.

In a major new anthology, Peter Parker explores what it was actually like for queer men in London in this period, whether they were well-known figures such as John Gielgud, ‘Chips’ Channon and E.M. Forster, or living lives of quiet – or occasionally rowdy – anonymity in pubs, clubs, more public places of assignation, or at home. It is rich with letters, diaries, psychological textbooks, novels, films, plays and police records, covering a wide range of viewpoints, from those who deplored homosexuality to those who campaigned for its decriminalisation.

This first volume, from 1945 to 1959, details a community forced to live at constant risk of blackmail or prison. Yet it also shows a thriving and joyous subculture, one that enriched a mainstream culture often ignorant of its debt to gay creators. Some Men In London is a testament to queer life, which was always much more complex than newspapers, governments and the Metropolitan Police Force imagined.

About Peter Parker


Peter Parker is the author of biographies of J. R. Ackerley and Christopher Isherwood, The Old LieThe Last VeteranHousman Country and A Little Book of Latin for Gardeners. He edited A Reader's Guide to the Twentieth-Century Novel and Twentieth-Century Writers, is an advisory editor of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, and contributed essays to Britten's Century and Fifty Gay and Lesbian Books Everybody Must Read. He has written about people, books, art, architecture and gardening for a wide variety of newspapers and magazines, and lives in London's East End.

“A formidable biographical debut”




“If Ackerley had chosen a biographer himself he could hardly have done better”

New York Times 



“Meticulous and elegantly written…a splendid biography”




“One of those rare biographies that makes you want to laugh and cry by turns; though strictly factual it has the teeming interior life and narrative sweep of a good novel”

Financial Times

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