2024: 29 June - 14 July

Pride Day: Sat 13 July

The Milkman’s On His Way

Thur 11 July

Bristol Central Library



Rating: 14+

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In this lunchtime lecture, D-M Withers, Lecturer in Publishing at the University of Exeter and Director of Lurid Editions, offers insights in the recent republishing of The Milkman’s on His Way – an important chapter in gay cultural history.

The Milkman’s on His Way is one of the first young adult novels published in the UK to centre gay characters. It was written by award-winning author David Rees and published in 1982 by the groundbreaking Gay Men’s Press. The book is a sweet coming of age story about Ewan McCrae, a young man struggling to come to terms with his sexuality. To embrace his identity, he must escape his claustrophobic hometown of Bude and discover queer community in London. On publication the book was celebrated in the gay press, and among librarians and educators, for its positive representation of gay experiences. Toward the late 1980s, however, Milkman was embroiled in controversy. The book was attacked in parliament for how it “glorified” homosexuality. It was declared “virtually pornographic” by the right-wing media, and eventually suppressed under the shadow of Section 28.

The Milkman’s on His Way has been unavailable since the 1990s but has been recently republished by Bristol-based publisher Lurid Editions. As Sir Ian McKellen says of the book, “For some, this honest tale of young love was an affront to their prejudices. To some of us it was a sign we were not alone. It remains as touching and relevant as ever – a gay classic.”

Book Tickets