May 3, 2017 by Anne Barwell
A big welcome today to Christina E. Pilz as part of her blog tour for FAGIN’S BOY.
Oliver and Jack and Sodomitical Intent
In my Oliver & Jack series, I write about the dangers facing gay couples in Victorian London in the year 1846. I’m not an expert on gay history, or on criminal justice in Victorian England, but I’ve done the research, and here’s what I know about what my characters are risking by being in love with each other and by celebrating that love with carnal relations.
First, Oliver and Jack have shady activities in their respective resumes, such as picking pockets, assault and battery, house breaking, being a vagabond (no fixed address), etc., any of which could get them arrested and sentenced to three months hard labor, or worse, deportation.
But in spite of their luck at avoiding arrest and prosecution for various and sundry crimes of no one would approve, the most dangerously illegal thing that Oliver and Jack get up to is love each other.
According to The Old Bailey Online, up until the year 1861, penetrative homosexual acts committed by men were punishable by death. Or they could have been, at the very least, convicted of sodomitical intent, which meant that they could be charged with even thinking about having sex. Punishments could include branding, whipping, the pillory, or imprisonment. Any way you look at it, Oliver and Jack are doomed if anyone catches them at it.
In addition to the legal ramifications if Oliver and Jack were caught kissing, there was the social and religious stigma attached to homosexuality.
From the Behavior and Not a Person site, I found a marvelous background on how homosexuality was defined as a mortal sin. And, because of King Henry VIII and the Buggery Act of 1533, (which defined buggery as “unnatural sexual act against the will of God and man”) if you got caught doing it “per anum,” you got the death penalty.
In spite of the fact that The Buggery Act was repealed and modified a number of times, it still retained a mental permanency on the culture as being a Bad Thing. So as you can imagine, not only could dear Oliver and Jack have all kinds of legal trouble if caught kissing, they would also face the wrath of God, and the wrath of any friends or relatives that might be super church-going.
Having been brought up in a den of thieves, Jack probably couldn’t give a rat’s rooty-toot about anything anybody might say about him being together with Oliver. Which makes Jack a much more easy-going soul about the whole thing, and a pleasure to write about.
As for Oliver, the social stigma of what he and Jack are to each other, and the kind of love that they share, is probably almost too much for him to bear. Or at least you would think so, based on the fact that he was raised on a baby farm for nine years and spent six to nine at a workhouse—and all of that time under the tutelage and care of people who were supposed to be Good Christians.
But in spite of this, Oliver falls into Jack’s arms in 1846 with hardly a protestation! And that’s because Jack is patient and kind and he feeds Oliver, which Oliver is a sucker for, and after much flirting, it is Oliver who makes the first move. Every now and then, I feel as though I should have had Oliver react in horror at what Jack suggests they do together, but somehow it never felt right. Which results in a character who sometimes wonders if he should be more aghast at how he feels about his beloved Jack. And that makes Oliver a very interesting and complex to write about.
In 1846 London, respectable young men do not fall for street thieves.
Oliver Twist has one desire: to own a bookshop and live a simple, middle-class life as far as possible from his workhouse-shadowed past. One thing stands in his way: Jack Dawkins–The Artful Dodger–who’s just returned to London and is seeking Fagin’s old gang.
Jack’s visits cause Oliver nothing but trouble with his employer, but he finds himself drawn, time and again, to their shared past, Jack’s unguarded honesty, and those bright, green eyes.
Oliver craves respectability, and doesn’t think he will find it with a forbidden love. Can Jack convince Oliver that having one doesn’t mean losing the other?
Fagin’s Boy is the first book in Christina E. Pilz’s Oliver & Jack series, a gay historical romance. If you like Dickensian characters and beautiful, flowering romances in all the wrong places, then you’ll love Fagin’s Boy.
Would you like to get an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) for any of the books in my Oliver & Jack series, and write an honest review on Amazon during the re-release week (18th May) ?
My Oliver & Jack series is about how Oliver Twist and the Artful Dodger fell in love.
Readers can get any or all of the books in the series, and It’d be great if you could leave the review on Amazon.
For more information on the schedule and to sign up, click the link below, or just send me a message.
I attended a variety of community colleges and state universities, and finally found my career in technical writing, which I have been doing for 20 years. During that time, my love for historical fiction and old-fashioned objects, ideas, and eras has never waned.
In addition to writing, my interests include road trips around the U.S. and frequent flights to England, where I eat fish and chips, drink hard cider, and listen to the voices in the pub around me. I also love coffee shops, mountain sunsets, prairie storms, and the smell of lavender. I am a staunch supporter of the Oxford comma.