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Queer Orientations

Navigating London through Joe Orton’s Archive

A collage image of Jon Norton

A creative workshop exploring how archives shape our understanding and experiences of the city using materials from the Joe Orton and Kenneth Halliwell collection at the Islington Local History Centre

The prolific 1960s playwright Joe Orton first made headlines when he was sentenced to six months in prison, alongside his lover Kenneth Halliwell, for the ‘malicious damage’ of books at the Islington Public Library. Today, the collaged book covers and lewd type-written blurbs are held as a treasured archival object at the Islington Local History Centre.

Tracing Orton’s navigation of London, from public libraries to public toilets, participants will use items from Orton’s archive to ask how we might consider queerness as an orientation that restricts and enables us as we navigate the city. Thinking of collage as a queer practice, the workshop will feature a creative session where participants will create their own postcard form of ‘malicious damage’.

Workshop information

Hosted by postgraduate researcher Katie Arthur, the workshop will be held as a single two-hour session. Please note, content will include references to sexual activity, Orton’s murder, and historical understandings of homosexuality. For more information, please email [email protected].

With special thanks to the Joe Orton and Kenneth Halliwell Collection at the Islington Local History Centre, the King’s College London Arts & Humanities Research Institute, [email protected]’s, and the King’s English Department.

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