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A close-up of the Rose Bowl, City Campus


The Trials of Oscar Wilde’s Salome: The Maud Allan Libel Case.

The seventh talk in the Leeds Cultural Conversations 2016/17 series which coincides with International Women's Day.

Presented by Professor Ruth Robbins.

Oscar Wilde’s play Salome has had a very difficult history. It was denied a licence for public performance and only premiered in 1896, in Paris, after Wilde had gone to prison. In 1918, after Wilde’s death, the Tory MP, Noel Pemberton-Billing, wrote a review of a private production of Salome, starring a Canadian dancer, Maud Allan. Under the headline ‘The Cult of the Clitoris’, he alleged that Allan was a lesbian fifth columnist for the Germans. Maud Allan promptly sued him for obscene libel. This talk tells the story of the trial that followed, and of the attitudes which led to Pemberton Billing’s acquittal. It raises questions about the persistent forms misogyny takes and offers some suggestions about images, resistance, and power.


The talk was filmed by Tomaso Aramini, a student from the Northern Film School.

This event was part of the Leeds Cultural Conversations series, presented by Leeds Beckett University and Leeds City Council. Leeds Cultural Conversations are a series of monthly talks programmed by the Centre for Culture & the Arts at Leeds Beckett University. For more information on the series please visit www.leedsbeckett.ac.uk/LCC.

Event Details

8 March 2017 -
8 March 2017
12:30 - 13:30
Room 1, Level 2, Carriageworks, The Electric Press, 3 Millennium Square, Leeds LS2 3AD
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