Today we focus more on the date than the location, as we have been celebrating Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee and the country continues to be full of bunting, jelly, Union Flags, fireworks and dads feeling tired and emotional.
So what’s the Queen’s connection to the world of GLBTQ fiction? A wonderful book by Alan Bennett called The Uncommon Reader which, if you haven’t read, you should go and make right straight away. (It’s to be found in libraries and bookshops everywhere, at least in Queen Elizabeth’s land.) Wryly funny, reverent but subversive, it’s a great book, with as its central characters Her Majesty and Norman the servant, whom she first meets when she happens across the mobile library in the grounds of Buckingham palace.
Norman is soon introducing the Queen to the works of authors such as JR Ackerley; introducing me to them too, as I ran across the name fore the first time in The Uncommon Reader’s pages. I had to go and look Ackerley up – lo and behold he turns out to be one of the forerunners of the gay literature genre with My Dog Tulip (you won’t run across that easily in either libraries or bookstores).
Mr Hutchings was dubious, pointing out that it was a gay book.
“Is it?” said Norman innocently. “I didn’t realise that. She’ll think it’s just about the dog.”
If you want Her Majesty’s opinion on Ackerley (or at least that opinion as surmised by Alan Bennett) then you’ll need to read the book.
And raise a glass or two to our beloved sovereign as you go!