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Arts & Culture Student

Writing London through the Queer Archive, in partnership with Islington Local History Centre


The first of its kind for the College, the GTA Enhancing Education Fund provided a unique opportunity for postgraduate researchers (PGR), who have experience as a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) in the Faculty of Arts & Humanities at King’s College London, to lead the design of a course or skill-specific engagement activity for students, in collaboration with module convenors. Seven projects have been funded, including Katie Arthur’s Writing London through the Queer Archive: Joe Orton.


In May 1962 Joe Orton and his partner Kenneth Halliwell were prosecuted for defacing public library books. The books, once used to imprison Orton and Halliwell for criminal damage, are now archived within Islington Local History Centre's Special Collections. But what changes need to happen culturally, institutionally, and legally to make criminal activity a curated artefact? Orton’s prosecution and rise to theatrical fame provide an opportunity for students to critically analyse how institutions such as the law, the archive, and the university affect the way we can write and read London.

Writing London through the Queer Archive is an interactive archival workshop based on the life and work of the outrageous and highly influential playwright Joe Orton (1933-67). It uses Orton's holdings at the Islington Local History Centre. Offered to first-year English Literature undergraduate students, the session complements a core module on literature in the capital, Writing London. This practical workshop will introduce students to literary London using hands-on archival and creative research methods. It builds on the focus in Writing London on the ways that politics, class, gender, and sexuality affect our experience of the city.

Project status: Ongoing


  • Undergaduates
  • Islington_Local_History_Centre's_Special_Collections
  • Joe_Orton
  • Queer_Archives