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More from Alice Raw

Eleanor Rykener: On reading a trans life, and the long view of queer public sex.

In 1394, a sex worker and a Yorkshireman are arrested in a stable for public sex, and specifically for ‘committing that detestable unmentionable and ignominious vice’, sodomy. The ensuing deposition reveals that Eleanor has been known as John at various times in their life, and has had sex with both men and women. This episode places Eleanor in conversation with other cases of queer public sex, in particular that of Simeon Solomon in 1873.

Further Reading:
For Kadin Henningsen’s article on Eleanor Rykener: https://ir.uiowa.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2189&context=mff
For the work of Simeon Solomon: https://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O126681/the-bride-bridegroom-and-sad-drawing-solomon-simeon/
For Neil Bartlett’s A Vision of Love Revealed in Sleep: https://www.simeonsolomon.com/documents-online.html

Before Cards of Humanity: Games for Medieval Women

It’s winter in Suffolk, and you and your friends are bored of sewing. What next? Why, a round of ‘Have Your Desire’, of course! In this quick fire dice game, you roll to reveal your fortune. Spoiler alert: you’re probably going to have sex.

Further Reading:
Nicola McDonald, ‘Fragments of Have Your Desire: Brome Women at Play’, Medieval Domesticity, ed. Kowaleski & Goldberg (Cambridge, 2008)

WAP, but make it medieval and Welsh: Medieval Welsh poet Gwerful Mechain explains why pussy is the best.

Little is known about the medieval Welsh poet Gwerful Mechain, but she wrote some absolute bangers, including ‘Cywydd y cedor’, or, to non-Welsh speakers, ‘Poem to the vagina’. In the opening, she says that men have written some great praise poetry about women, but they are incomplete, because they don’t include detailed praise of genitalia. She then gives us a further thirty lines dedicated to WAP.

Further Reading:
Katie Gramich, The Works of Gwerful Mechain (Peterborough, ON, 2018)

More in United Kingdom

Graffiti at Wellclose Square Prison

Although Wellclose Square Prison is now lost to history, the wooden walls of one of the cells survive at the Museum of London and are covered in graffiti documenting the distant voices of the incarcerated in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.