A play with people in a courtroom listening to talks.


Agatha Christie, lesbians, and criminal courts

Hosted by the LSE Library

In-person and online public event (LSE Library), United Kingdom


Dr Caroline Derry

Senior lecturer in criminal law at The Open University


Dr Hakan Sandal-Wilson

LSE Fellow in Race and Gender at the Department of Sociology

Join Caroline Derry for a talk exploring how lesbians are represented in Agatha Christie’s work and the insights they offer into the criminal justice system’s attitudes to lesbianism in post-war England.

Several Agatha Christie novels depict lesbian relationships. The best-known, A Murder is Announced (1950) and Nemesis (1971) portray them very differently. The contrast between the devoted and socially accepted couple in A Murder is Announced and the dysfunctional love at the heart of Nemesis is stark.

In the same period, the criminal law’s approach to relationships between women also changed. Nonetheless, it seemed to lag several decades behind medical and sexological developments. By looking at Christie’s novels and real-life cases together, we can see that this was not simply a symptom of out-of-touch judges. The reasons, to be discussed in this talk, are both more complex and more interesting!

Caroline Derry is a senior lecturer in criminal law at The Open University, author of Lesbianism and the Criminal Law: Three centuries of regulation in England and Wales, and a lifelong fan of Agatha Christie.

Hakan Sandal-Wilson is an LSE Fellow in Race and Gender at the Department of Sociology. Before joining LSE, he was a teaching associate in Sociology at Downing College, University of Cambridge, and Affiliated Lecturer at the University of Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies.

The British Library of Political and Economic Science (@LSELibrary) was founded in 1896, a year after the London School of Economics and Political Science. It has been based in the Lionel Robbins Building since 1978 and houses many world class collections, including the Women's Library and Hall-Carpenter Archives.


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