In Roman Londinium the city was dotted with lupanaria (‘wolf dens’ or public pleasure houses), fornices (brothels) and thermiae (hot baths). Then came the Emperor Constantine, with his bishops, monks and missionaries. And so began an endless loop of alternating permissiveness and censure.
Ackroyd takes us right into the hidden history of the city; from the notorious Normans to the frenzy of executions for sodomy in the early nineteenth century. He journeys through the coffee bars of sixties Soho to Gay Liberation, disco music and the horror of AIDS.
Today, we live in an era of openness and tolerance and Queer London has become part of the new norm. Ackroyd tells us the hidden story of how it got there, celebrating its diversity, thrills and energy on the one hand; but reminding us of its very real terrors, dangers and risks on the other.
"After his mammoth, shamanic aria London: the Biography, the remarkable writer Peter Ackroyd has produced a nimble, uproarious pocket history of sex in his beloved metropolis" (Alasdair Lees Independent)
"Ackroyd has an encyclopaedic knowledge of London, and a poet's instinct for its strange, mesmerising drives and urges ... Queer City contains something to alarm or fascinate on every page" (Craig Brown The Mail on Sunday)
"Droll, provocative and crammed to busting with startling facts" (Simon Callow The Guardian)
"If there was a prize for the most evocative or salacious chapter headings, then Peter Ackroyd's new book, Queer City, would be the undisputed victor. They capture the rudery and naughtiness, although not the erudition of this entertaining history of the 'queer' experience in London" (Robbie Millen The Times)
"Succinct, perceptive and robust" (Rupert Christiansen Daily Telegraph)