Joe Orton 50th anniversary walks

  • 28
  • Jun

It is 50 years ago this summer since people were urged to “turn on, tune in and drop out” in the hippie-inspired Summer of Love, The Beatles released their ground breaking album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and the world’s first ATM was installed in London.

It is also 50 years since the gay playwright and Islington resident, Joe Orton, was murdered in his flat by his lover and the hugely significant Sexual Offences Act of 1967 came into force.

Joe Orton rose to fame in the mid 1960s with his darkly comic, cutting edge farces ‘Entertaining Mr Sloane’ and ‘Loot’ but his private life resulted in tragedy when his lover, Kenneth Halliwell bludgeoned him to death and then took his own life, in what seems to have been a fit of jealous rage.

The 1967 Sexual Offences Act decriminalised sex, in private, between men over the age of 21 and was a first step on the long and ongoing journey towards equality for members of the LGBT community.


Joe Orton at his flat in Islington in 1966

To commemorate these two anniversaries Clerkenwell and Islington Guides’ Association (CIGA) tour guides are leading two free guided walks. Entitled ‘Islington Pride – 50 Years of LGBT History’, the walks visit key sites in the life and death of Joe Orton and also highlight the many LGBT “firsts” and other developments that have taken place in Islington in the aftermath of the 1967 Act.

Orton’s local pub, the gathering point for the UK’s first gay rally and the former home of a member of the extraordinary Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence are just a few of the venues featured on these fascinating walks.

The walks have been generously funded by Islington Museum to complement an exhibition at the museum called ‘Up Against It – Islington 1967’, which runs 22 July – 21 October 2017.

Like the guided walks, the exhibition explores the impact of the Sexual Offences Act (1967), and commemorates the 50th anniversary of the deaths of the borough’s most famous or possibly infamous gay couple, Joe Orton and Kenneth Halliwell, on 9 August 1967.

Islington Pride – 50 Years of LGBT History guided walks take place on the 50th anniversaries of the events they commemorate.

When: The first is on Thursday 27 July – the day the 1967 Sexual Offences Act came into force and the second is on Wednesday 9 August – the day that Joe Orton was murdered.

Book a place here

Find out more information about the 1967: Up Against It – Joe Orton, Criminal Acts and Islington exhibition and Islington Museum’s related programme of events

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