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Closet Queens: Some 20th Century British Politicians

Michael Bloch

4 Reviews

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Biography: historical, political & military, Prose: non-fiction, Gay studies (Gay men)

A colourful and brilliantly researched study of closet homosexuality in twentieth-century British politics.

Closet Queens is a fascinating study of gay men in twentieth century British politics, from Lord Rosebery and Lord Beauchamp in Edwardian times to Michael Portillo and Peter Mandelson in our own era.

As all homosexual activity was illegal until 1967, and exposure meant ruin and disgrace, such men were obliged either to repress their sexual feelings or else lead double lives, indulging their tastes secretly while respectably married with children.

The need to cover up their sexuality, while causing problems and disappointments, often sharpened their skills as politicians - they were masters of secrecy and subterfuge, and knew how to take calculated risks.

An entertaining and insightful account of some extraordinary personalities, Closet Queens opens doors into a hidden world.

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Praise for Closet Queens: Some 20th Century British Politicians

  • Michael Bloch's publishers did well to get Matthew Parris to give his imprimatur to this book. It could easily have been a sleazy parade of salacious innuendo, but Bloch is a scrupulous historian who wrote an excellent biography of Jeremy Thorpe and has now looked at around 50 more politicians of the last century who led similarly double lives. This is a serious historical subject . . . Bloch shows that there was a far more extensive network of covert homosexuality than has hitherto been recognised, and there is no longer any need for reticence in admitting it - Independent

  • A hugely entertaining book . . . In my experience, homosexuals have a gift for seeing homosexuality everywhere, yet after reading Michael Bloch's survey I am retrospectively more persuaded . . . Bloch juggles the skills of lock-picker, outrageous gossip and historian. The result is unflaggingly absorbing - Daily Telegraph

  • Michael Bloch has written an entertaining account of the sex lives of some of Britain's most prominent and colourful politicians. What is surprising is that there were rather more secretly gay MPs than anyone imagined - Observer

  • There is plenty of fun here, as Michael Bloch writes very entertainingly, and with a sharp sense of humour - New Statesman

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Michael Bloch

Michael Bloch read law at St John's College, Cambridge and was called to the bar by the Inner Temple. Appointed James Lees-Milne's literary executor in 1997, he edited the final five volumes of the complete diary as well as abridging it into three volumes, DIARIES, 1942-1954, DIARIES, 1971-1983 and DIARIES, 1984-1997. He also wrote the acclaimed biography, JAMES LEES-MILNE: THE LIFE. Find out more at

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