The Ladies of Llangollen

As we continue to celebrate LGBT History Month, Sarah Bentley explores the relationship between the two 18th century women known as the Ladies of Llangollen. 

“My dear Mrs Goddard I cannot paint our distress.
My dear Sally lept out of a Window last Night and is gone.
We learn Miss Butler of the castle is with her. I can say no more….
We are in the utmost distress and I am sure you pity us…”
– Lady Betty Fownes (from Elizabeth Mavor’s The Ladies of Llangollen)

“Sally” mentioned above was Sarah Ponsonby, an orphan, charge of her late father’s cousins, Sir William and Lady Betty Fownes. Miss Butler “of the castle” was Eleanor Butler: intellectual and passionate, with biting wit. At 29 she was asked to keep a friendly eye on Sarah who’d been placed at Miss Parke’s School near Kilkenny castle in 1768.

Eleanor made a big impact on teenage Sally. Continue reading


Queer Territory: Claude Cahun and a land without labels

In the first of our posts for LGBT History Month, Sarah Jaffray looks at how the artist Claude Cahun explored the parodies of gender.

In her 1930 auto-biography Disavowals artist-writer Claude Cahun addressed the question of her identity, explaining: “Shuffle the cards. Masculine? Feminine? It depends on the situation.” Long before the articulation of Queer Theory in Judith Butler’s seminal Gender Trouble (1990), Cahun and her partner (both in art and life) Marcel Moore explored the masquerade of gendered existence. They worked decades before anyone was ready to accept that gender is a social construction.  Continue reading


Transvengers: Youth Review & Interview

The Transvengers webcomic was created by a group of young trans people aged 13-19 from Gendered Intelligence and is featured in our Institute of Sexology exhibition. Find out more about the project on our website. This review and interview with one of the young people involved has been re-posted from the LGBTQ Arts and Culture Review.

Article originally posted on the LGBTQ Arts and Culture Review

The four sexologists featured in Transvengers.

The four sexologists featured in Transvengers.

Review: The Transvengers | by Harri

The Transvengers comic is an online comic created by a group of 13-19 year olds from Gendered Intelligence, it’s also on display at the Institute of Sexology exhibition. It’s an incredibly powerful piece of work, but also demonstrates a sharp sense of humour from its creators – we’d certainly recommend a read.  This week, LGBTQ Arts’ Harri wrote up some thoughts having read the comic, and also interviewed Shaun, one of the creators.

Continue reading