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The Challenge

Literary studies and biographies have historically tended to overlook or even to suppress LGBT lives in Wales.



Amy Dillwyn

Black and white image of Amy Dillwyn smoking a cigar

The method

Professor Kirsti Bohata’s research into LGBT literature from Wales reveals that queer people have made an important contribution to the literature and history of Wales and the world.   Her work particularly focuses on the life and writing of Amy Dillwyn (1845-1935), a Victorian industrialist and novelist.  Professor Bohata has reclaimed Dillwyn as a key writer of queer Victorian literature and a diarist whose life writing sheds new light on genderqueer identities and same-sex desire.

In a new anthology edited by Professor Bohata, Queer Square Mile: Queer Short Stories from Wales (forthcoming May 2021), she has brought together nearly 50 short stories from 1830-2020 – some appearing in print for the first time – which puts queer writing at the centre of the Welsh canon.

The impact

Impact highlights resulting from Professor Bohata’s research include:

  • Kate Milsom’s Amy Dillwyn in exhibitions in London, Cheltenham, Wales and via Saatchi’s print.
  • Mandy Lane’s sculptures and other artworks celebrate Dillwyn’s iconoclastic feminism and her sexuality: The Iron on the Dress has been shown in Bath, in various locations in Wales and via a digital exhibition.  
  • Queer theatre company, Living Histories, used Bohata’s research to create ‘A Moral Amazon: the story of Amy Dillwyn’ which has featured at lesbian festivals and LGBT events. 
  • S4C documentary series Mamwlad and BBC Radio Wales History of Wales have both commissioned producers to make documentaries on Amy Dillwyn in consultation with and with contributions from Professor Bohata, and she appeared on Good Morning on Radio Wales to discuss Dillwyn to mark the centenary of votes for (some) women.
  • Companies House commissioned a blog to mark LGBT history month on Amy Dillwyn. 
  • Dillwyn has been the subject of illustrated articles in Britain’s leading lesbian magazine, Diva (October 2015) and for Women’s History Month in The Western Mail.

Find out more about the Amy Dillwyn research project.

Swansea University Research Themes