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British Library of Political and Economic Science

WATNEY, Simon, fl 1970-2000, gay and HIV/AIDS activist


Reference code(s): GB 0097 HCA/Simon Watney papers

Held at: British Library of Political and Economic Science

Title: WATNEY, Simon, fl 1970-2000, gay and HIV/AIDS activist

Date(s): [1970-1998]

Level of description: sub-fonds

Extent: 146 boxes

Name of creator(s): Watney | Simon | fl 1970-2000 | art historian and gay and HIV/AIDS activist


Administrative/Biographical history:

Simon Watney is an art historian and writer on health. He became involved with the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) in the winter of 1970, whilst studying at Sussex University, and helped to establish the Sussex GLF in Brighton the following year. Following four years as an art history lecturer at Brighton Polytechnic (1971-1974), Watney moved to London in 1975 and joined the Gay Left Collective two years later. They published his article 'The Ideology of GLF' in 1980. He worked as a Senior Lecturer in the history and theory of photography at the School of Communication, Polytechnic of Central London, from 1976-1986, and published several books on art history. He continues to write and lecture in his capacity as an art historian. He left the academic world in 1986 to concentrate on practical efforts in fighting AIDS, working on short contracts for several AIDS/HIV projects from 1986-1992, and undertaking voluntary sector work. Amongst other roles, Watney chaired the Policy Group and the Health Education Group of the Terrence Higgins Trust, and was a founder-Trustee of The National AIDS Manual and of Gay Men Fighting AIDS. In 1990 he was one of the founders of OutRage!. From 1988, he wrote a regular HIV/AIDS column in Gay Times, and was awarded the US Words Project for AIDS/Gregory Kolovakos award for his book Taking liberties: AIDS and cultural politics (Serpent's Tail in association with the ICA, London, 1989). Since 1992, Simon Watney has been the Director of the Red Hot AIDS Charitable Trust, an HIV/AIDS funding initiative supporting education around the world for those at demonstrably high risk from HIV. In 1995, The Independent described him as one of the forty most influential gay men in Britain. Publications: Imagine hope: AIDS and gay identity (Routledge, London, 2000); Policing desire: pornography, AIDS and the media (Methuen, London, 1987); Practices of freedom: selected writings on HIV/AIDS (Rivers Oram, London, 1994); The art of Duncan Grant (Murray, London, 1990); Taking liberties: AIDS and cultural politics (Serpent's Tail in association with the ICA, London, 1989); editor of Photography politics (Comedia, London, 1986); Fantastic painters (Thames and Hudson, London, 1977); English post-impressionism (Studio Vista, London, 1980).


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of Simon Watney, [1970-2000], mainly relating to gay activism and AIDS campaigning in the UK and the USA, and including articles and notes by Watney, correspondence, photocopies, reports, leaflets and audio and video tapes.


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:


Conditions governing access:

Closed until listed.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright retained by the donor.

Physical characteristics:

Finding aids:



Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information:



Archival history:

Given by Simon Watney in 1998 and 2000.

Immediate source of acquisition:


Existence and location of originals:

Existence and location of copies:

Related material:

Publication note:



Archivist's note: Compiled by Sarah Aitchison as part of the RSLP AIM25 project.

Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: Nov 2000

Bisexuality | Sexuality
HIV/AIDS education | Health education
Homosexuality | Sexuality
Lesbian, gay and bisexual campaigning groups | Groups
Lesbianism | Sexuality

Personal names
Watney | Simon | fl 1970-2000 | art historian and gay and HIV/AIDS activist

Corporate names

North America