A Transgressive Life
Speaker: Frances Bingham
Valentine Ackland was a poet, gender-rebel, and lover of the writer Sylvia Townsend Warner. For much of her life she was under MI5 surveillance for ‘abnormality’ as well as Communism. This talk about Ackland’s transgressive life, by her biographer Frances Bingham, considers her lifelong political activism – which included volunteering for the Spanish Civil War – and the personal politics of her gender deviance. It will also explore Ackland’s poetic role as a champion of the oppressed or silenced – refugees, political prisoners, condemned criminals, hunted animals – and a queer witness to key events of the 20th Century.
Frances Bingham is a London-based freelance writer who works across the literary spectrum, focusing on gender-transgressive lives like her own. As well as editing Journey from Winter: Selected Poems of Valentine Ackland, and writing the biography Valentine Ackland: A Transgressive Life, she’s published fiction, plays and poetry including a novel, The Principle of Camouflage; The Blue Hour of Natalie Barney, produced at Arcola Theatre London; Comrade Ackland and I, broadcast on BBC Radio 4; the epic poem MOTHERTONGUE and London Panopticon: a city incantation (both with images by Liz Mathews).