THE CLEVELAND STREET AFFAIR by Colin; Lewis Chester & David Leitch Simpson


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This reconstruction of the 1889 Cleveland Street scandal which involved lofty patrons of a London male brothel, is more accessible and wider in scope, if not as meticulous, as Montgomery Hyde's recent study (p. 714). Whereas Hyde focuses on the outsize legal and societal ramifications of a newly enacted sodomy law, the journalist authors, perhaps fired by Watergate, are most fascinated by intimations of government conspiracy--particularly the reluctance of the prime minister, Lord Salisbury, to pursue the case against the eminent Lord Somerset, a Cleveland Street regular. Although there was little doubt as to Somerset's guilt, the deeply veiled hints that Prince Eddy, frail eldest son of the Prince of Wales, might be winged in the dragnet, crippled the prosecution of Somerset until he was able to leave the country. The authors rigorously examine cover-ups by those in high places and an Establishment ""prepared to suspend some of its normal judgments in response to a higher duty."" The P.M. moved to shield the Crown's image while the cobble-pounding police sought to enforce the law. The various trials, and the ordeal of the truth seekers in Parliament and Fleet Street come under scrutiny and there is a generous chapter of Victorian porn containing the sensational ""confessions"" of a particularly flamboyant ""Mary Ann."" A thorough rough shake of this Affair and all the King's men.

Pub Date: Oct. 26th, 1976
Publisher: Little, Brown