“Within a few letters I was completely hooked,” Wolf said, in adoration of Simmons’ letters that depict how a homosexual man fell in love for the first time during a period when being gay in Britain was a crime.
She said sexual acts, such as sodomy, are central to her retelling of love and sex within the context of censorship and criminalisation. Literature published in the 19th century, including books and even journalistic reports, not adhering to laws on homosexuality were viewed as illegal.
Liberal-progressive feminist Wolf told her audience that her research into Simmons also acknowledged the prevalence of first-wave feminism in the 19th century. Feminists during this time were an “incredibly well-organised and self-sufficient group of women,” she said.
Wolf touched upon the wider issue of freedom of speech, labelling it “such a profound danger”. She said her values were the same on democracy, and in light of the UK’s current political climate she told her audience “you guys really need a constitution”.
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Picture by Chris Athanasiou