Helena Whitbread is a historian and the editor of the diaries of Anne Lister, a wealthy, independent, nineteenth century lesbian landowner.
Three decades ago Helena elected to study and translate the journals of Anne Lister, which were written in a secret code of Anne's own design. At that time Helena was completely unaware of the journals’ explosive contents.
Only gradually did the truth of Anne’s lesbian sexuality begin to reveal itself. By publishing the first volume of Anne’s journals in 1988, then entitled I Know My Own Heart, Helena Whitbread made lesbian history. Such detailed and candid expression of lesbian love and sex that took place two hundred years ago had never previously been known.
In 1993, Helena published a second volume of Anne Lister’s diaries, No Priest But Love, which boldly includes more revelations of Anne’s romantic and sexual intrigues than the first. Anne Lister's diaries have been called the 'dead sea scrolls of Lesbian history'.
The lesbian world owes a great deal to Helena Whitbread for her ongoing committed study of the life and diaries of Anne Lister. Helena is currently working on Anne Lister’s biography.
You can follow Helena at @HelenaWhitbread
Rictor Norton Ph.D. Social and literary historian and writer, specializing in gay history. Member of the Gay Liberation Front, Florida, 1971-72, campaigned against Florida's sodomy statute. Edited The Homosexual Imagination, a special issue of College English, the first all-gay issue of an academic journal, 1974; introduction "The Homophobic Imagination" reproduced on Norton's website. Emigrated from Florida to London in 1973. Research Editor for the fortnightly news journal Gay News, London, 1974-78. Wrote articles on gay history and literature for Gay Sunshine, The Advocate, Gay News, etc. during the 1970s, and for Gay Times later. Published academic articles in Renascence, American Imago, Yearbook of Comparative and General Literature, the London Journal, etc. Was the Foreign Rights Manager for Western Publishing Company (Golden Books), 1979-90. Freelance publishing consultant 1991-94; freelance writer and editor since 1995. Author of books on gay history and on the Gothic Novel, including the highly acclaimed Mother Clap's Molly House: The Gay Subculture in England, 1700-1830 (1992), My Dear Boy: Gay Love Letters through the Centuries (ed.) (1997), The Myth of the Modern Homosexual (1997), a critique of social constructionism; a biography of the Gothic novelist Ann Radcliffe (1999); an anthology of Gothic Literature (2000); and several facsimile collections of eighteenth-century British erotica for Pickering and Chatto, Sex Doctors and Sex Crimes (2002) and Sodomites, Mollies, Sapphists and Tommies (2004). He is a contributor of entries to Who's Who in Gay & Lesbian History (Routledge, 2001) and a contributor to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. He maintains an extensive website on Gay History and Literature, with large subsections on Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook and on the "father of gay history" John Addington Symonds, as well as a non-gay site on Early Eighteenth-Century Newspaper Reports: A Sourcebook. In December 2005 he formed a civil partnership with his partner of nearly thirty years.
We are so lucky to have Rictor's essay on the raid of a notorious gay brothel in 1726 here.