The Joe Orton Diaries: Love, Death and Wolfenden photo on Stagedoor

The Joe Orton Diaries: Love, Death and Wolfenden Tickets

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Best known for his three stage plays, Entertaining Mr Sloane (1964), Loot (1966) and What the Butler Saw (1969), Joe Orton also produced one of the most (in)famous diaries in literary history.

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Thu 5 Mar, 7.30pm


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About The Joe Orton Diaries: Love, Death and Wolfenden

By considering the diary as a privileged form of expression for sexual minorities in the pre-Stonewall era, this lecture challenges the prevailing view that the diaries explain Orton’s sensational murder in terms of Kenneth Halliwell’s professional and sexual insecurity. Often seen as chronicling a relationship in decline, the diaries instead acknowledge the life and love that Orton shared with Halliwell; posthumous publication ensured the lasting visibility of a partnership that Orton was compelled to elide in public before the decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1967. The political significance of the diaries is further reassessed by reading them as a response to the Wolfenden Report (1957). Rather than implying that Orton’s promiscuity was the catalyst for Halliwell’s deadly rage, the diaries counter the construction of a ‘respectable’ homosexual deserving of social acceptance through a candid record of public, group and (what became in 1967) underage sex. Overall, this re-reading of The Orton Diaries opposes the narrative of tragic queerness that typically defines Orton’s life, casting new light on the Orton-Halliwell relationship and on the diary as a form of queer protest. This event will take place at: St Anne's Soho, Dean Street, London