How crossdresser was accepted in Victorian Edinburgh

With petticoats swishing the ground, blonde tresses artfully curled beneath a bonnet and a small bustle giving the fashionable figure of the day, Stella Boulton’s appearance on Princes Street turned heads.

But not all the gasps and curious stares were perhaps for the reasons hoped. For Stella was in fact Ernest, a young man who had dedicated his life to become a female impersonator both on the stage and in Victorian drawing rooms. And the six months he spent in the Scottish capital had the place agog with speculation and rumour.