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The National Archives Podcast Series

Listen to talks, lectures and other events presented by The National Archives of the United Kingdom.
The National Archives Podcast Series
  1. Unfolding the court case that banned a 1920s lesbian novel

    In 1928 Radclyffe Hall wrote 'The Well of Loneliness', a novel that featured female characters in same-sex relationships. Shortly after it was published, the Sunday Express called for the book to be suppressed and urged the Home Office to censor it. Despite attempts by writers including Vera Brittain, T.S. Eliot and Virginia Woolf to defend the novel as a book of literary, sociological and psychological significance, it was banned later that year.

    In this podcast, we look at files from the obscenity trial to find out why a lesbian novel that lacked any lewd imagery or language was classed as obscene. Hear what the novel meant to sexologists such as Henry Havelock Ellis; which side of the trial Rudyard Kipling offered to stand on; and the alternate plot lines that the magistrate believed would spare a novel with gay characters from censorship.

  2. The Sexual Offences Act 1967. Part 2: Wolfenden's silent women

    On 27 July 2017, The National Archives held a day of talks to mark the 50th anniversary of the royal assent of the Sexual Offences Act 1967, which partially decriminalised male homosexuality in England and Wales.

    In this recording, Caroline Derry looks at how the Wolfenden committee (whose 1957 report laid the ground work for the passing of the Sexual Offences Act) barely mentioned women and instead focussed almost exclusively on homosexual men.

  3. The Sexual Offences Act 1967. Part 1: The lives of men from 1953 to the 1967 Act

    On 27 July 2017, The National Archives held a day of talks to mark the 50th anniversary of the royal assent of the Sexual Offences Act 1967, which partially decriminalised male homosexuality in England and Wales.

    In this recording, Sammy Sturgess discusses the lives of gay men in London in the lead up to the 1967 Act: from legal rights and social spaces, to employment and living arrangements.

  4. Tudor trials: Confessions from the Star Chamber

    Medieval records specialist Euan Roger gives us a taste of the kinds of disputes dealt with by the Star Chamber, one of the highest Tudor courts.

    The tens of thousands of Star Chamber records kept at The National Archives reveal a wealth of information about Tudor life. In this podcast, we uncover a few of the more unusual cases put before the King's council, including a murder cover-up, a child maintenance complaint, and a marital dispute.

    Credits: this podcast uses an excerpt from 'Stabat Mater', performed by the Tudor Consort.

  5. Jane Austen: from beginning to end

    To commemorate the bicentenary of Jane Austen's death in 1817, Professor Fiona Stafford delivered a talk on Austen's life and work at the The National Archives, where Austen's original will is held.

    Fiona Stafford is a professor of English Language and Literature at Somerville College, Oxford, specialising in Romantic literature from Keats and Wordsworth to Austen. She is editor of 'Emma' for Penguin and 'Pride and Prejudice' for Oxford World's Classics, and has written on many aspects of late eighteenth and early nineteenth century literature, including 'Brief Lives: Jane Austen'.