Reviews and Critiques by Rictor Norton

Who's Who in Gay and Lesbian History
Vol. 1: From Antiquity to World War II
Vol. 2: From World War II to the Present Day
Edited by Robert Aldrich and Garry Wotherspoon
(London and New York: Routledge, 2001)

The outstanding book of the year in 2001 in the field of gay and lesbian history was the two-volume Who’s Who in Gay & Lesbian History (Routledge) edited by the Australian scholars Robert Aldrich and Garry Wotherspoon. Some 120 gay and lesbian historians and critics from a dozen countries contributed biographies of more than 500 people who are notable – or notorious – for their roles in the development of gay history and culture in the West. Each entry is fully documented, making this a trustworthy resource for the most scrupulous mainstream historian who needs to check out the facts in a handy authoritative reference work. For gay readers, it is a joy to explore such a rich heritage. We are offered not only refreshing new looks at the familiar "great queens" of Western Europe, but fascinating information about little-known Scandinavian, South American, South African, Canadian, Australian and Iberian figures. The first volume, From Antiquity to World War II, illustrates how gays and lesbians were unified in their focus upon past traditions in literature and art, while the second volume, on Contemporary Gay & Lesbian History, shows how political activism has led to a global gay culture unified by a focus on the future.

(This brief notice was my 'Books of the Year' choice for Gay Times, December 2001, pp. 85–86. Copyright Rictor Norton. All rights reserved. Reproduction for sale or profit prohibited. This critique may not be archived, republished or redistributed without the permission of the author.)

Return to Reviews and Critiques
Return to Gay History and Literature