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Forbidden Lives
Forbidden Lives

Forbidden Lives

LGBT Histories from Wales


248 Pages, 5.5 x 8.25

Formats: Trade Paper

Trade Paper, $17.00 (US $17.00) (CA $23.00)

Publication Date: January 2018

ISBN 9781781724101

Rights: US, CA, LAM, SAM & CAR

Seren (Jan 2018)

Price: $17.00


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, MPs Desmond Donnelly and Leo Abse, AE Dyson and Griff Williams. 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 the 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.


"Norena Shopland has brought together for the first time a collection of these stories. They are gripping in their own right, but they also provide the necessary outline of what a full history of LGBT life in Wales will be." —Jeffrey Weeks, Professor of Sociology, London South Bank University

Author Biography

Norena Shopland has a Master's degree in heritage studies and has worked for the British Museum, National Museums Scotland and the Museum of London. Now living back in Wales she has worked with leading heritage organisations including National Museums Wales, Glamorgan Archives and Cardiff Story. Shopland has extensively researched the heritage of LGBT people and issues in Wales for 15 years. She devised the first project in Wales to look at placing sexual orientation and gender identity into Welsh history, and managed Gender Fluidity, the first funded transgender project in Wales. She has been the main organizer of LGBT History Month Cymru for three years and arranged for Gillian Clarke to write the first poem in the world by a national or poet laureate celebrating the LGBT people of a country. Her work has appeared in the Welsh press, radio and TV and she regularly provides advice and support in the history of LGBT people in Wales. She lectures to staff networks of the Welsh Government, to numerous museums, archives, charities and other events such as BiFest, Sparkle and Pride.