Queen and country

Same-sex desire in the British Armed Forces, 1939-45

By Emma Vickers

Queen and country


  • Paperback
  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-8294-8
  • Pages: 224
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: November 2013
  • BIC Category: Modern History, History, Social & cultural history, HISTORY / Military / World War II, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Military Policy, HISTORY / Social History, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Gay Studies, Gay & Lesbian Studies, Humanities / Social & cultural history
  • Series: Gender in History


The first study of its kind in the UK, Queen and country examines the complex intersection between same-sex desire and the British Armed Forces during the Second World War. It illuminates how men and women lived, loved and survived in an institution which, at least publicly, was unequivocally hostile towards same-sex activity within its ranks. Queen and country also tells a story of selective remembrance and the politics of memory, exploring specifically why same-sex desire continues to be absent from the historical record of the war. In examining this absence, and the more intimate minutiae of cohesion, homosociability and desire, this study pushes far beyond traditional military history in order to cast new light on one of the most widely discussed conflicts of the twentieth century.


This empirically rich study adds a new chapter to the history of homosexuality in the context of the Second World War. Fascinating in its detail, Queen and country shows how the very attempt to regulate same-sex intimacies and desires gave rise to new sexual identities and queer communities.'
Laura Doan, author of Disturbing Practices: History, Sexuality, and Women's Experience of Modern War

Vickers neatly embeds the empirical detail - the bulk of the book under review - within the wider corpus on the subject of gender and history and she is to be commended for an excellent, scholarly study that will surely propel further scholarship.

'Emma Vickers has produced a rich and humane study of World War Two service personnel which significantly expands our understanding of "gay" people and the reaction of "ordinary people" to them before gay lib in the 1970s.'
Brian Dempsey, James Morgan Brown Review


1. Inclusion
2. Keeping up appearances
3. Playing away
4. Make do and mend
Biographies of interviewees


Emma Vickers is Senior Lecturer in History at Liverpool John Moores University

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