When Victorian Newspapers Put Gender-Bending on Trial

1870s Press Covered an Otherwise Trivial Case as Breathlessly—and Dangerously—as Today’s Trans Stories

In 1870, Ernest Fanny Boulton and Frederick Stella Park were arrested in London. Their crime? Presenting as women outside their theatrical act.

Fanny and Stella had appeared in newspapers before, known for their colorful personas as entertainers, sometimes praised and sometimes criticized for their performances. Boulton was revered for being the “best amateur performer off the boards,” while Park had a talent for interpreting matrons, dowagers, and old women in pantomimes. As long as their gender-bending impersonating talents were put to the good use of gentlemanly entertainment, there was nothing wrong …

Francis Barraud's 1898 black and white painting of the dog Nipper looking into an Edison Bell cylinder phonograph.

Her Voice Memos and My Grief

A Friend’s Digital Messages in a Bottle Carry on a Centuries-Long Tradition of Auditory Remembrance

One of my best friends died recently.

It still doesn’t feel real. The last time I saw her was the day after the Fourth of July. Her smile always lit up …

The Victorian Vision of Disruption Is a Tech Bro Fantasy | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

The Victorian Vision of Disruption Is a Tech Bro Fantasy

The Real Lesson from the Late 1800s Is That Futures Are Best Made Collectively

Are tech bros the new Victorians? I’m sure they wouldn’t think so. In fact, I’m sure they’d be deeply insulted by the notion. The Victorians of our imagination are staid …