Prejudice and Pride – new book brings LGBTQ histories to light

New National Trust guide book, co-authored by Professor Cook, explores places that have been shaped by the sexuality of their inhabitants, workers, owners and guests

Image: Kingston Lacy (C) National Trust/John Millar

Professor Matt Cook from Birkbeck’s Department of History, Classics and Archaeology has co-authored a new National Trust guidebook, Prejudice and Pride.

The book, which Professor Cook co-authored with Leeds Beckett University’s Professor Alison Oram, sheds light on the LGBTQ heritage of many National Trust people and places. It commemorates figures such as Vita Sackville-West and her husband Harold Nicolson, owners of Sissinghurst Castle in Kent, but also delves into the lives of lesser-known individuals associated with Trust landscapes and collections, such as William Bankes, who fled from his home at Kingston Lacy in Dorset to avoid prosecution for homosexuality and lived abroad for the last 15 years of his life.

The book explores places that have been touched and shaped by the sexuality of their inhabitants, workers, owners and guests and brings to light their often turbulent stories and sometimes challenging histories of public front and private expression.

Dr Cook said: “Research for this guidebook has been so  fascinating – I remember being taken to National Trust houses as a teenager and thinking these places had nothing to do with my life. How wrong I was!”

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