At last, a biography of Valentine Ackland.
Frances Bingham has written the definitive biography
of this remarkable
cross-dressing woman, poet and activist, recovering an important part of
British lesbian history and creating a testament to queerness and gender
identity in Valentine’s transgressive life.
Mrs. Turpin was Valentine Ackland, on the run from her
recent disastrous marriage. She was soon to meet the love of her life, Sylvia Townsend Warner, already a celebrity for her dashing debut
Willowes. They would live in Dorset
together in a passionate relationship until Valentine’s death in 1969.
Valentine was a dedicated poet, deeply involved with
Communism during the 1930s, and an environmentalist and peace campaigner.
Recently released MI5 files show that she was blacklisted for confidential work
during World War II, and remained under long-term surveillance.
Despite her commitment to Sylvia, Valentine had many
affairs with women who fell for her androgynous beauty and her masterful
conduct of an amour. She also struggled with alcoholism, but the relationship with Sylvia
survived all challenges.
“Bingham prompts the reader to keep turning the pages of this well-researched, idiosyncratic, and fascinating biography.” – New York Journal of Books
“The cross-dressing Communist lesbian, her closet gay husband … and a love story like no other.” – The Daily Mail