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Fabulosa! The Story of Polari, Britain’s Secret Gay Language.

Paul Baker is Professor of English Language at Lancaster University. He has written eighteen books, including American and British English (2018) and, with Jo Stanley, Hello Sailor! (2003). He regularly gives talks and workshops about Polari and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Paul discovered Polari some years ago and was so intrigued with it's history and derivation, that he decided to study the subject at University.

Polari is a language that was used chiefly by gay men in the first half of the twentieth century. It offered its speakers a degree of public camouflage and a means of identification. Its colourful roots are varied – from Lingua Franca to dancers’ slang – and in the mid-1960s it was thrust into the limelight by the characters Julian and Sandy on the BBC radio show Round the Horne (‘Oh Mr Horne, how bona to vada your dolly old eke!’). Paul Baker recounts the story of Polari with skill, erudition and tenderness.

He traces its origins and describes its linguistic nuts and bolts, explores the environments in which it was spoken, explains the reasons for its decline and tells of its unlikely re-emergence in the twenty-first century. With a cast of drag queens, sailors, Dilly boys and macho clones, Fabulosa! is an essential document of recent history and a fascinating, fantastically readable account of this funny, filthy and ingenious language.

As he delved further into the world of Polari, he eventually decided to research a book about it and as a result, FABULOSA was published.

As one leading expert commented;

‘Glorious! This fascinating account of Polari, the Lost Language of Queens, is utterly absorbing. It’s history at its best: alive, vivid, fluid, warm, human and humane, and it gets as close as any book I’ve read to penetrating the mystery-wrapped-in-an-enigma that is camp. Not just fabulous. Not just fabulosa. But completely fan-tab-u-losa!’ – NEIL MCKENNA

Fabulosa! The Story of Polari, Britain’s Secret Gay Language is published by Reaktion Books. Use the code FAB20 at their website to get 20% off.

A Times Literary Supplement Book of the Year 2019.

Order here from Amazon (UK), Amazon (US), Waterstones, WH Smiths or the Hive.

To learn more about Paul and Polari as a language, please click the link below  

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Published: 26-Sep-2020 Top Stories

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