Fanny and Stella review

Fanny Stella

(Fanny -or Stella- walking in the streets in proper Londonian society)

Fanny and Stella: The Young Men Who Shocked Victorian England review by Neil McKenna

16174761rating : two stars

It has been a long time since I reviewed a history book. Usually I only do medieval ones since it’s my specialty but I made an exception with this one.

I was first piqued in my historical interest because I did study Victorian England but I never heard about drag queens in those classes. I thus really wanted to read more on the subject. Secondly I was a bit put off because I know very little on historical drag queens, I only knew the Chevalier d’Eon, so I tried to read it as a history reference.

So as you all can guess this is a nonfiction book about two drag queens in Victorian England: Fanny and Stella whom were arrested because they were in drags and also accused of sodomy (which was a crime at the time). The book follows their arrest and goes back on their lives and how did a young drag queen lived in Victorian England and how.

I was very harsh in the rating, I know this book has received a good average on Goodreads, but I really could not find any more interest in the book after the first half. To be honest it was chaotic, the returns back and forth in time were really confusing and made the story look like a fiction and not a nonfiction. Of course I say so as a history student so perhaps for someone else it would lighten the story and picked the interest of the reader.

Problem is, the story itself, as interesting as it was, was quite dull. It was very slow and not like a lecture but as if the author had wanted to say too much in one book. That’s why I did not understand the amount of chapters on other people, yes it made the enquiry very thorough but it was in my point of view too much. And as a historian I was quite disappointed to see so little sources. A historian rely mainly on its sources, it’s the base of the analysis I mean even Allison Weir had at least three pages of bibliography at the end of her She-wolf. I even read a manga on Mary-Antoinette which used more references than this book….

I ended up quite bored with this book and kept putting it down yet I do find its subject to be interesting and I might look up other books.