Pride Month: Celebrating Historical Queer Authors
June is the official Pride Month of the global calendar, dedicated to commemorating the history and voices of all LGBT+ people. Recognising these narratives, which were hidden for so many years and still are in many areas of the planet, is an incredibly powerful tool for striving towards equality and inclusion. So many queer authors, especially throughout history, were preventing from showing their true selves due to constrictive societal norms. Therefore we chose to take a look at three classical authors, originally forced to keep their queerness hidden, and bring their true selves into the light.
First of all, Oscar Wilde is the queer historical writer who springs to mind for many people. Author of many brilliant poems, plays and only one novel: The Picture of Dorian Gray, he was an undoubtedly gifted wordsmith. After his affair with a young aristocrat, Wilde was imprisoned for gross indecency - but not before he had risen to fame with the astonishing success of his plays and writings. Wilde has now been given the adoration and recognition that he deserved, cementing him as one of the wittiest and smartest writers of the 19th Century.
Daphne du Maurier is another queer author whose queerness, unlike Wilde, is often unmentioned and pushed out of public awareness. Author of classic gothic tales such as Rebecca and My Cousin Rachel, du Maurier is one of the most respected gothic authors of our time, with her stories adapted across stage and screen. Many critics read Rebecca as a queer story, with Rebecca’s ‘evennormal’ and ‘reptile’ qualities interpreted by many as lesbian connotations, which disgusted her husband Maxim. Biographers of du Maurier's life widely agree of her affair with her publisher’s wife, Ellen Doubleday. How ever people choose to interpret Rebecca, particularly the relationship between Rebecca and the devoted Mrs Danvers, it’s clear that du Maurier’s skill as an author cannot be understated.
A final historical queer author we love to celebrate is Virginia Woolf, whose notable relationship with the writer Vita Sackville-West is well documented through the beautiful love letters they wrote to one another. Both women had many affairs with their own sex, which inspired Woolf to write her masterpiece Orlando, which was ground-breaking at the time. Woolf forged a new path for women in terms of autonomy, work and the flexibility of gender norms, and remains an icon for many women and queer people today.