A journey back in time to find out why legislation was passed so unexpectedly in the UK in 1885 to make homosexual behaviour illegal - a law that led to the prosecution of tens of thousands of men until it was repealed eight decades later, but not before the prosecution of Oscar Wilde led to a moment of fear, unprecedented in modern British history, for those whose lives made them vulnerable. This is not just an important work in an emerging gay history, it is also a fascinating glimpse of a society remarkably like our own, coming to terms with massive social and technological change in the 1880s and 1890s. It explains some of the background to this massive social shift - a clash between purity campaigners and those, like Wilde, who believed he could live a new kind of life. It also finds the origins of the new law in the ferment of politics in Dublin, and the first fully-fledged sex scandal...

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