london street culture

Timing is Everything

The famous Cleveland Street scandal, which involved the discovery of a homosexual male brothel by London police, began in July 1889. Sex between men was illegal; clients faced persecution and social exclusion if found out.

Arthur Conan Doyle met Oscar Wilde at a publisher’s dinner in August 1889, during the height of the Cleveland Street scandal. Conan Doyle liked Wilde; afterwards he called it “a golden evening.”

The Sign of Four appeared in print in February 1890. In the story, John Watson, previously a bachelor, is presented with a potential (and eventual) wife.

The Picture of Dorian Gray was published in July 1890; the original version contained a reference to the Cleveland Street scandal. The novel was later used against Wilde at his trials for the text’s allusions to homoeroticism.

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One Potato, Two Potato! Games played by London schoolchildren in the streets and playgrounds in the 1950s.