The Queer Pleasures of Reading: Camp and the Middlebrow.

Professor Nicola Humble

Roehampton University

In 2001 I had published a book with a rather horrible title – The Feminine Middlebrow Novel 1920s to 1950s: Class, Domesticity and Bohemianism.  In the preface I talked about my experience of reading the middlebrow women’s fiction of this period with my friends at university.  If I might self-indulgently quote myself, I said the following:

Studying English – and a great deal of literary theory – at Oxford in the mid-1980s, my circle of female friends developed a cultish taste for what we called ‘girly books’ – those women’s novels of the first half of the century discovered in second-hand bookshops, and just beginning to be reissued by Virago.  The generic ‘girly book’ combined an enjoyable feminine ‘trivia’ of clothes, food, family, manners, romance, and so on, with an element of wry self-consciousness that allowed the reader to drift between ironic and complicit readings.  A classic of the type would also reveal a maelstrom of thwarted impulse struggling beneath the surface of the text, even a hint of psychosis beneath its ebullient fripperies.  We read these books not in a spirit of analysis but of pure self-indulgence: they were at one with the bright red lipstick we decided offered no contradiction to our radical feminist principles.  I think we saw them as a form of camp – revelling in their detailing of a mode of feminine existence that seemed eons away from our own.   They certainly had no direct bearing on the model of English literature we constructed for the benefit of our finals examiners.  Fifteen years later, I no longer see these novels as camp: their concerns seem both more serious and less safely distant, and the world of the women who wrote them and the women who read them is central to the way I now understand the first half of the twentieth century. (Humble, 5-6)

When I was invited to offer a paper for this conference, I thought again about this statement – and decided I was wrong.  I do still think these novels are camp.  So I started wondering why; what camp really is; and whether perhaps their early readers might have found them camp too.  And if so, what that might tell us about the middlebrow and its cultural place.
So what is camp?  It is one of those things that seems to shift and re-form when you get too close to it.  We all think we know what we mean by the term, but it seems to evade clear definition, playing in the murky waters between ‘kitsch’ and ‘queer’. Susan Sontag teases out some of these issues in her ‘Notes on Camp’, published in 1964: 

Many things in the world have not been named; and many things, even if they have been named, have never been described. One of these is the sensibility -- unmistakably modern, a variant of sophistication but hardly identical with it -- that goes by the cult name of "Camp."
A sensibility (as distinct from an idea) is one of the hardest things to talk about; but there are special reasons why Camp, in particular, has never been discussed. It is not a natural mode of sensibility, if there be any such. Indeed the essence of Camp is its love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration. And Camp is esoteric -- something of a private code, a badge of identity even, among small urban cliques. (Sontag, 53) [1]

Nonetheless, Sontag does offer a range of defining characteristics of the camp sensibility: it is a mode of aestheticism; it emphasises style over content; it converts the serious into the frivolous.  ‘It is the love of the exaggerated, the "off," of things-being-what-they-are-not’ (56).  Camp is primarily a way of seeing, but it is not only that: it is a quality discoverable in objects, in people, and although the camp eye has the power to transform experience, not everything can be seen as camp: ‘It's not all in the eye of the beholder’ (54).  Camp can be a way of transforming the artefacts of the past – a looking back with tongue in cheek, an enjoyment of the failed seriousness of the past object – and it is this sense that I intended in my dismissal of my early sense of middlebrow fiction as camp: I wanted to suggest that these novels are more than just ridiculous.  But there is also the camp which speaks to its own moment, which is an integral part of the object, and it is this notion that I want to pursue, in suggesting that there is a camp sensibility inherent in middlebrow fiction and the reading culture that surrounds it.[2]  

Sontag offers 58 separate ‘notes’ on the subject of camp – I want to deal with just a few of them.  One of the most useful for my purposes has to do with the issue of character:

What Camp taste responds to is "instant character" (this is, of course, very 18th century); and, conversely, what it is not stirred by is the sense of the development of character. Character is understood as a state of continual incandescence - a person being one, very intense thing. This attitude toward character is a key element of the theatricalization of experience embodied in the Camp sensibility. (61)

So many middlebrow texts can be described in these terms – the Provincial Lady novels, and those by Nancy Mitford, the works of Margery Allingham and Agatha Christie (in fact, detective fiction in general, which has no real interest in character development), Cold Comfort Farm, with its ludicrous character ‘types’, the weirdly static world of Ivy Compton Burnett, and, of course, the campest of all interwar novels – those by E. F. Benson.  Benson’s Mapp and Lucia novels offer an immediate riposte to Sontag’s contention that the truest form of camp is unconscious, since their campness is surely entirely within the control of their author.  In terms of character, his novels overflow with outrageously one-dimensional stereotypes: bossy Miss Mapp, always ultimately routed by the endlessly pretentious Lucia; effeminate Georgie, with his piano duets and his embroidery; the snobbish Wyses, and so on.  Many of the characters are themselves camp: the lisping Lucia, a vulnerable dominatrix as appealing to the queer sensibility as any Judy Garland or Bette Davies; the barely-closeted Georgie; and Quaint Irene, an artist who dresses as a man and harbours an openly-acknowledged ‘schwarm’ for Lucia.  But more than this, the novels fulfill virtually all of Sontag’s criteria: the camp sensibility, she suggests,

is one that is alive to a double sense in which some things can be taken. But this is not the familiar split-level construction of a literal meaning, on the one hand, and a symbolic meaning, on the other. It is the difference, rather, between the thing as meaning something, anything, and the thing as pure artifice. (57)

It is precisely this sensibility that animates Benson’s novels.  I have suggested elsewhere that his fiction functions as a sort of condensed pastiche of the women’s middlebrow novel, in which the day-to-day minutiae of domestic details, social trivia and servant problems tip over into surrealism, with the refusal of a recipe leading to Mapp and Lucia being washed out to sea on an upturned kitchen table, and exclusions from dinner parties leading to revenge schemes as elaborate as those in a Jacobean tragedy.  The small concerns of the women’s middlebrow mean simultaneously everything and nothing in this fiction.  It is not straightforward parody, which dismisses the thing it mocks, but a double vision which treats with profound affection the thing it reveals so clearly as ridiculous.  Or as Sontag says, in a description that absolutely sums up the tone of Benson’s fiction:

Camp taste is a kind of love, love for human nature. It relishes, rather than judges, the little triumphs and awkward intensities of "character." ... Camp taste identifies with what it is enjoying. ...  Camp is a tender feeling.  (65)

It is not just in E. F. Benson’s fiction that we find this doubleness of vision, though his is the most marked case.  It is, it seems to me, a key element in the sophisticated wryness which characterises the tone and attitudes of much middlebrow fiction.  Rachel Ferguson’s wonderfully loopy The Brontës Went to Woolworths (1931), for instance, which begins with a mocking dismissal of exactly the sort of novel – familial, bohemian, self-consciously modern – that it itself is:

How I loathe that kind of novel which is about a lot of sisters.  It is usually called They Were Seven, or Three – Not Out, and one spends one’s entire time trying to sort them all, and muttering, ‘Was it Isobel who drank, or Gertie?  And which was it who ran away with the gigolo, Amy or Pauline?  And which of their separated husbands was Lionel, Isobel’s or Amy’s?
            Katrine and I often grin over that sort of book, and choose which sister we’d be, and Katrine always tries to bag the drink one.  (7)

Or  the ending of Nancy Mitford’s The Pursuit of Love (1945), which offers us high romance (the death of Linda in childbirth; the death of her true love in war), only to simultaneously snatch it away by giving the last word to the cynical Bolter:

            ‘But I think she would have been happy with Fabrice,’ I said.  ‘He was the great love of her life, you know.’
            ‘Oh, dulling,’ said my mother, sadly.  ‘One always thinks that.  Every, every time.’  (192)

The double lens of this camp vision is one of the key ways, I would suggest, in which middlebrow fiction manages to negotiate the prickly terrain between high and low culture; the way in which it wrong-foots those who would seek to dismiss it; how it gets to have it both ways.  Indeed, I would go further, and suggest that this sensibility is one that animates much of the culture of the interwar years.  We find it in the strangest places – in the archness of address in women’s magazines and cookbooks, for example and, most gratifyingly, in the writings of the plain-speaking George Orwell, who wonderfully remarks in his 1936 essay ‘Bookshop Memories’ that

For casual reading – in your bath, for instance, or late at night when you are too tired to go to bed, or in the odd quarter of an hour before lunch – there is nothing to touch a back number of the Girls’ Own Paper. (246)

Camp because of its apparent straight-facedness, its playful gender-bending, and because of the supremely ridiculous image it conjures up of Orwell in his bath, this acknowledgement of decadent reading pleasure comes in the middle of an essay decrying the poverty of the public’s reading tastes.  This is a key element of the mindset of the cultural arbiters of the interwar years: if you read trash you are trashy, but if I read it I am sophisticated, because I get the joke.  A paradoxical hauteur that transforms the icons of popular culture into the badge of membership of an exclusive coterie: this is camp – but it is also, I think, an apt summation of the game played by the interwar middlebrow.  Or, as Sontag puts it:

Camp is the answer to the problem: how to be a dandy in the age of mass culture. Camp ... makes no distinction between the unique object and the mass-produced object. Camp taste transcends the nausea of the replica. (63)

I could go on offering examples of the overlap between camp and the middlebrow, but instead I want to move on to a related issue: that of queerness.  Sontag spends some time attempting to tease out the relationship between camp and homosexuality.  She concludes that camp taste and homosexual taste are not the same thing, but that ‘homosexuals, by and large, constitute the vanguard -- and the most articulate audience -- of Camp’ (64).  It is this formulation of the relationship between homosexuality and camp that has led many queer theorists to reject Sontag’s model.  She is charged with having depoliticised camp, removing it from its original (queer) creators and redefining it as something much closer to a kitsch aesthetic.  Seen in this light, her assertion that the ‘truest’ form of camp is unconscious seems specifically designed to exclude the various camp modes of self-expression that characterised pre-Stonewall homosexual sub-cultures.[3] In asserting that there is a form of camp operating in the feminine middlebrow, I am moving beyond Sontag’s depoliticised model of camp.  These texts, I would argue, are camp in both Sontag’s wider cultural sense, and also in the very specific sense reclaimed by recent queer theorists: they are interested in representing and considering homosexuality identity, and in the process they offer a model of gender identity as shifting, constructed, and somewhat arbitrary.
Homosexuality seems to become suddenly visible in literary culture after the first world war.  Students on my courses on literature from the 1930s to 1960s are always surprised by how many of the major writers of the period have same-sex relationships; by how many gay characters appear in the literature.  Traditionally, literary criticism has tended to see this emergence of queer culture as a feature of the bohemianism of key high-cultural literary groupings – the Auden generation, the Bloomsburries – seeing it, in other words, as an eccentricity of genius.  But it seems to me that this presence is in fact the sign of a much more general visibility of homosexuality, and an increasing cultural interest in it.  The work of sexologists at the turn of the century and the public dissemination of Freudian ideas lead to a more general openness about the sexual, and the trauma of the first world war created a more fluid sense of gender identities, allowing concepts of androgyny to feed into the public understanding of homosexuality.  All of these features are apparent in the middlebrow treatment of the homosexual.
In considering homosexuality in the middlebrow we need to think of two issues – the visibility of  homosexuals, and the attitudes the literature expresses towards them.  I want to think about a few novels in which homosexual characters play a central role.  The first is Rosamond Lehmann’s Dusty Answer (1927), in which there are a number of significant homosexual characters and encounters.  Judith, the protagonist, falls successively in love with the members of a family of cousins, and with her beautiful college friend Jennifer.  The relationship with Jennifer is presented as a welcome relief after the awful betrayals of heterosexual love in her experiences with the most enigmatic of the cousins, Roddy.  At first it is figured in terms of a tradition of romantic friendship that descends from the Victorians – less transgressive than relationships with the opposite sex – but as the book progresses, Jennifer’s feelings are revealed in more and more clarity as incontrovertibly Sapphic.  The text’s handling of these issues is a masterpiece of delicate encoding (and this in the year before the publication of The Well of Loneliness).  The reader, like Judith, is allowed to both know and not know exactly what Jennifer feels – and what she gets up to with the masculine-looking Geraldine Manners: ‘Now she would leave her with Geraldine and not trouble to ask herself what profound and secret intimacies would be restored by her withdrawal’ (162).  So too in the novel’s treatment of male homosexuality, both Judith and the reader know everything and nothing simultaneously.  The description of Tony Baring, who Judith immediately recognises as a threat to her hoped-for relationship with Roddy, makes no bones about his homosexuality, or his effeminacy – but only for those who know the codes (it is possible to conceive of an ‘innocent’ reader, for whom the following is not transparent):

He had a sensitive face, changing all the time, a wide mouth with beautiful sensuous lips, thick black hair and a broad white forehead with the eyebrows meeting above the nose, strongly marked and mobile.  When he spoke he moved them, singly or together.  His voice was soft and precious, and he had a slight lisp.  He looked like a young poet.  Suddenly she noticed his hands, - thin unmasculine hands, - queer hands – making nervous appealing ineffectual gestures that contradicted the nobility of his head.  She heard him call Roddy ‘my dear’, and once ‘darling’; and had a passing shock. (95-6)

Roddy’s own sexuality is not clarified – but the strong implication is that he has dalliances with both men and women.  What is interesting is the assumption – both the text’s and Judith’s – that the masculine bonds that may or may not include sexual relationships are the primary ones.  Judith sees herself as a threat to those same-sex bonds, formed by Roddy at school and university:

Supposing she were to take Roddy from Tony, from all his friends and lovers, from all his idle Parisian and English life, and attach him to herself, tie him and possess him: that would mean giving him cares, responsibilities, it might mean changing him from his free and secret self into something ordinary, domesticated, resentful.  Perhaps his lovers and friends would be well advised to gather round him jealously and guard him from the female. She saw herself for one moment as a creature of evil design, dangerous to him, and took her hand away from his that held it lightly. (150)

A number of cultural commentators and historians of sexuality have noted that in the decades after the war there was what amounted to a cult of homosexuality at the ancient universities (John Betjeman in a radio interview exclaimed ‘But everybody was queer at Oxford in those days!’ (Haste, 87)).  Jeffrey Weeks put it more circumspectly:

In certain strata (the ancient universities, literature, the higher echelons of the state) there was possibly a greater openness than previously; and for many homosexuals, reflecting in old age, the 1930s may have seemed a golden age. ... [Some] managed to develop relationships, and integration into the (largely secretive) subcultures. (220)

It is exactly this world, of course, that Charles Ryder is drawn into as an undergraduate of the inter-war years in the 1945 Brideshead Revisited – a world of romantic male-to-male passions and heightened aesthetic sensibilities, presided over by the Wilde-like Anthony Blanche.  In Dusty Answer, both lesbians and gay men are visible, at least for the sophisticated reader, but the attitudes expressed towards them are very different.  Lesbianism is largely safe, almost cosy, while male homosexuality is dark and secretive – the hostility towards Tony Baring and an almost physical revulsion, is very close to the surface.  This distinction is played out in most middlebrow fiction – lesbianism is easily accepted, male homosexuality is much more problematic.  So in Benson’s Mapp and Lucia novels, there is a key distinction between Quaint Irene and Georgie.  The sexuality and the gender ambiguity of the former is unthreatening, though directly addressed:

Outside in the garden Irene, dancing hornpipes, was surrounded by both sexes of the enraptured youth of Tilling, for the boys knew she was a girl, and the girls thought she looked so like a boy. (132)

Poor Georgie, however, is kept firmly emasculated – effeminate, but never seen in sexual terms.  His sexuality is so irrelevant that in Lucia’s Progress (1935) he is annexed in marriage to the commanding Lucia.  The fact that Benson was himself gay (as – fascinatingly – were all his siblings, and his mother) suggests that this distinction in attitudes is a function not of prejudice but of what seemed expressible at this historical moment.[4] (Male homosexual acts were, of course, illegal until 1967, while lesbian acts were not.)
Josephine Tey’s To Love and Be Wise (1950) has at its centre the disappearance of Leslie Searle, a mysteriously beautiful young man.  Searle, a photographer, has charmed the self-consciously bohemian inhabitants of the small village to which he has recently moved, but they all report an air of fascinating wrongness about him.  A middle-aged romantic novelist declares that Searle makes her feel abandoned: ‘“I’m sure he was something very wicked in Ancient Greece”’; others see him as demonic (28).  Tey’s series detective Grant, responsible, through a series of coincidences, for introducing Searle into the hot-house environment of the artistic village, is thrown at their initial meeting when Searle laughs up at him as they are pressed together by the crush of bodies at a literary party.  The implication of Searle’s homosexuality is presented in the most highly coded terms, with Grant and his Sergeant raising and dismissing the possibility only through tone of voice:

“What was he like, sir?”
“A very good-looking young man indeed.”
“Oh,” Williams said, in a thoughtful way.
“No,” said Grant.
“No?” (75)

When the mystery is solved, it turns out that Searle is in fact a woman, who has lived as a man for years for career purposes.  It is testament to the relative shock value of various queer identities at this date that the transvestism and hints of lesbianism (Searle has pursued relationships with women) are considerably less worrying to the text than Searle as a male homosexual. 
The most ‘out’ of middlebrow texts is probably Mary Renault’s The Friendly Young Ladies (1944), which centres on Leo, a boyish writer of popular cowboy yarns, who lives on a houseboat with her ultra-feminine lover Helen.  Their relationship is presented to us through the gaze of Leo’s naive much younger sister, who fails to understand its nature, while at the same time laying all the necessary clues for the reader.  This is very much a text of the mid-century, with the representation of lesbianism poised precisely between Havelock Ellis’s inverts and the self-assertion of the gay rights movement to come.  The lesbianism is encoded, but pretty transparently – it is only the naive Elsie who does not see it.  It is absolutely accepted by the other characters – and many of the men they meet seem to find it positively titillating.  This is not lesbianism as desexualised romantic friendship, and yet it is so cosy as to seem somehow less than sex.  Leo, at least, has chosen the relationship as a retreat from the scariness of penetrative sex with men, and both women continue to have dalliances with men as well.  By the end of the novel, Leo has left Helen for her best friend Joe, who has managed to ‘cure’ her of her fear of heterosexual sex.  It is a curious ending for a lesbian writer.  The resolution of the novel’s contradictions can be found, I think, not in its responses to femininity but to masculinity.  Leo wants to be a boy, and it is as a boy that she relates to Joe.  He makes this explicit in the letter he writes to her after they have had sex:

‘There are two people in you.  One of them I have known much longer than the other.  I am missing him, already, as much as I have ever missed a friend.  I should like him back – sometimes.  But you know, now, how much he counted for when he came between my woman and me. . . .  I can’t tell how much he means to you.  Perhaps, ultimately, he is you, and has the immortal part of you in his keeping.’ (274-5)

On the level of romantic fantasy, the book valorises this relationship – but not as a retreat from homosexuality.  The ultimate fantasy is of Joe and Leo as two men.  It is no coincidence that for the rest of her career Renault wrote historical fantasies focussed on the male-centred homoerotic culture of Ancient Greece and Asia Minor.
If such an overtly gay-identified writer as Renault found it necessary to so heavily encode a romance between two men, it is interesting that a much more frivolous writer, Nancy Mitford, did not.  My final example is Love in a Cold Climate (1949), the second of Mitford’s brittle comedies of social snobbery, and a sort of sequel to The Pursuit of Love.  The novel centres on the fortunes of two toadies and their rival methods of ingratiation.  It is a device that, characteristically (and camply) allows her to ridicule snobbery while also indulging in it.  Boy Dougdale, who has married into the very grand and very rich Hampton family, is the first of the toadies, passionately interested in the aristocracy ‘his great talent for snobbishness and small talent for literature have produced three detailed studies of his wife’s forebears’ (155).  His rival is the flamboyant Cedric, a distant cousin from the colonies in favour of whom the furious Lord Montdore disinherits his daughter Polly when she marries the ageing Boy. Cedric’s power of fascination lies in his passionate appreciation of the beauty and luxury of Hampton, and his ability to transform the Montdores into creatures of cosmopolitan glamour. Cedric’s gayness is completely apparent from the first moment he sashays into the novel: ‘A glitter of blue and gold crossed the parquet, and a human dragonfly was kneeling on the fur rug in front of the Montdores, one long white hand extended towards each’ (274), but his is not the effete sexless camp of Benson’s Georgie. Cedric has had many lovers, and drops tantalising references to their indulgences and brutalities. One of his first acts on moving to Hampton is to pick up a young lorry driver and install him as an odd job man.  Mitford absolutely expects the reader to understand what she is saying about Cedric’s sexuality, and indeed, makes sly use of him as a device to ‘out’ other characters, such as Davey, Fanny’s health-obsessed gossipy uncle, who remarks that ‘in the course of his own wild cosmopolitan wanderings, before he had met and settled down with Aunt Emily, he had known too many Cedrics’ (289).  The novel is completely on Cedric’s side, his transformation of the stuffy Montdores offering the same sort of narrative gratification as does Flora’s re-making of the inhabitants of Cold Comfort Farm.[5] It ends triumphantly, with Cedric bearing off to Paris not just Lady Montdore, but also Boy, with whom he has fallen in love:

I went into the garden to find Cedric.  He was sitting on the church-yard wall, the pale sunshine on his golden hair, which I perceived to be tightly curled, an aftermath of the ball, no doubt, and plucking away with intense concentration at the petals of a daisy.
            “He loves me he loves me not he loves me he loves me not, don’t interrupt my angel, he loves me he loves me not, oh, heaven!  He loves me!  I may as well tell you, my darling, that the second big thing in my life has begun.”
            A most sinister ray of light suddenly fell upon the future.
            “Oh, Cedric,” I said.  “Do be careful!”
I need not have felt any alarm, however, Cedric managed the whole thing quite beautifully.  As soon as Polly had completely recovered her health and looks, he put Lady Montdore and Boy into the big Daimler and rolled away with them to France. . .
            “So here we all are, my darling, having our lovely cake and eating it too, One’s great aim in life.”
            “Yes, I know,” I said, “the Boreleys think it’s simply terrible.” (320)

To shock the ghastly Boreleys, the representative of tedious middle-class respectability, simply confirms the perfection of it all.  So why is it that Mitford can get away so easily with that which Renault feels the need to hide?  One answer is simply – camp.  The endlessly evasive playfulness of the camp mode makes all things acceptable.  It is a point Sontag makes very clearly:

Homosexuals have pinned their integration into society on promoting the aesthetic sense. Camp is a solvent of morality. It neutralizes moral indignation, sponsors playfulness. (64)

Seen in these terms, camp functions as a spearhead for gay rights, insinuating ‘queerness’ into mainstream culture.    

In suggesting that we read the middlebrow through the lens of camp, I do not want to offer yet another way in which it can be dismissed.  On the contrary, I would suggest that the concept of camp provides one more way of understanding that elaborate dance whereby the middlebrow novel manages to be both populist and snobbish, conservative and radical, inclusive and excluding, sophisticated yet playful – all at the same time.


1. Sontag’s article propelled both the idea of camp and Sontag herself into the media spotlight, with articles in major US and British periodicals (the New Statesman, Time, Holiday, the Observer, and the New York Times among others) examining this ‘new taste’.  ‘Camp’ became a marketing buzz-word, and by the end of the decade, ‘camp’ and ‘pop’ had become synonymous. 

2. There have been many other formulations of camp since Sontag’s ground-breaking essay.  One of the most compelling is that of Philip Core: ‘[a] working definition of camp is essential before we can pinpoint camp retrospectively and contemporarily.  Camouflage, bravura, moral anarchy, the hysteria of despair, a celebration of frustration, skittishness, revenge ... the possible descriptions are countless.  I would opt for one basic prerequisite however: camp is a lie that tells the truth.’ (Cleto, 81)  I am using Sontag’s definitions as my model for two reasons: firstly, hers was the initiatory attempt to define this essentially indefinable sensibility, and, secondly, her interest in camp as a phenomenon of wider applicability than  gay subculture offers a frame for my application of the concept to the women’s middlebrow fiction of the interwar years.

3. ‘Sontag’s (non-)definition of camp as an elusive sensibility is charged with consenting its appropriation and reorientation by dominant culture, indulging in a nostalgia paradoxically eliding the historical existence of the object of nostalgic desire itself, just as it elides camp’s alleged origins within the homosexual subculture.’  (Cleto, 10)

4. For a fascinating account of Benson’s sexual identity, see John Tosh, ‘Domesticity and Manliness in the Victorian Middle Class: The Family of Edward White Benson’ (Roper and Tosh, 1991: 44-73).

5. Cedric’s precise brand of camp, and its appeal, is summed up by Philip Core: ‘In Somerset Maugham, Cecil Beaton, the dilettante actor Ivor Novello, and Noël Coward, we can pinpoint the sort of camp the English upper classes adore: an outrageous but unprosecutable arbiter elegantiarum who bullies the world of married society into accepting a homosexual’s view of how it should dress, act, entertain and sometimes think.’ (Cleto, 83)

Works Cited

Benson, E. F. (1970; 1935) Mapp and Lucia. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Cleto, Fabio, ed. (1999) Camp: Queer Aesthetics and the Performing Subject: A Reader. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Philip Core (1999; 1984) Camp: The Lie That Tells the Truth, reproduced in Fabio Cleto,  ed. (1999) Camp: Queer Aesthetics and the Performing Subject: A Reader. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Ferguson, Rachel (1988; 1931) The Brontës Went to Woolworths. London: Virago.

Haste, Cate (1994) Rules of Desire: Sex in Britain, World War I to the Present. London: Pimlico

Humble, Nicola (2001) The Feminine Middlebrow Novel, 1920s – 1950s: Class, Domesticity and Bohemianism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Lehmann, Rosamond (1986; 1927)  Dusty Answer. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Mitford, Nancy (1986; 1949) Love in a Cold Climate, in The Nancy Mitford Omnibus. Harmondsworth: Penguin

Mitford, Nancy (1970;1945) The Pursuit of Love. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Orwell, George (1968; 1936) ‘Bookshop Memories’. In The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters, ed. Sonia Orwell and Ian Angus, i, An Age Like This, 1920-1940. London: Secker & Warburg.

Renault, Mary (1994; 1944) The Friendly Young Ladies. London: Virago.

Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky (1994) The Epistemology of the Closet. Harmondsworth: Penguin

Sontag, Susan, ‘Notes on Camp’ (Fall 1964), first published in Partisan Review 31.4: 515-30; reproduced in Fabio Cleto, ed. (1999) Camp: Queer Aesthetics and the Performing Subject: A Reader. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, pp. 53-65.

Tey, Josephine (1986; 1950) To Love and Be Wise. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Tosh, John, ‘Domesticity and Manliness in the Victorian Middle Class: The Family of Edward White Benson’. In Michael Roper and John Tosh, (eds.), (1991) Manful Assertions: Masculinities in Britain since 1800. London: Routledge, pp. 44-73.

Weeks, Jeffrey, (1981; rev. edn. 1989) Sex, Politics and Society: The Regulation of Sexuality since 1800. London: Longman.