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Sex in the city

Books | By Edward Behrens

'Queer City: Gay London from the Romans to the Present Day' by Peter Ackroyd reviewed by Edward Behrens

About halfway through Queer City, Peter Ackroyd’s catalogue of criminals that purports to be a study of gay London, he writes that, ‘The effeminate male has been parodied or satirised for the best part of a thousand years … This in turn leads to the question at the heart of this book. What is the connection between queerness and the city?’ There’s a lot of leading down alleys in this book but none of it looked as if it was heading in this direction. Condensing a history of London from Roman times to the present day down to 230 pages could well be considered an achievement, but then so could the building of Westfield. It starts with that most reassuring of techniques: the definition of terms. It’s a perfectly sensible place to start any essay, as we learned in our history classes at the age of twelve. The problem here...

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