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Performing Artist (Dancer)
Born Beulah Maud Durrant in 1873 in Toronto, Allan was the daughter of William Allan Durrant, a shoemaker, and Isa (also known as Isabella) Matilda Hutchinson Durrant. At an early age she moved to San Francisco. After studying music and dance in Europe for five years she made her dance debut in Vienna in 1903. In 1918 a production of Oscar Wilde's Salome was planned for London, England, with Allan in the lead role. Noel Pemberton-Billing, publisher of the newspaper The Vigilante, used the occasion to attack German influence in London and perversion in particular. It was suggested that the subscribers to this special benefit might be part of a group found in the German Black Book - supposedly a list of 47,000 names of persons of doubtful morality who could easily be blackmailed. Allan was accused of belonging to the "Cult of the Clitoris," a group said to involve "the wives of men in supreme position ... In lesbian ecstasy the most sacred secrets of State were betrayed. The sexual peculiarities of the members of the Peerage were used as a leverage to open fruitful fields of espionage." Allan sued Billing for libel and a sensational trial followed. Among those testifying were Robbie Ross and Lord Alfred Douglas. On June 6, 1918, the Toronto Daily Star reported: "Allegation against dancer is withdrawn: Pemberton-Billing merely alleged Maud Allen pandered to certain vices." Allan lost her lawsuit.
The Times (London) used the word "lesbian" for perhaps the first time, in its coverage of the Allan trial
Related Material
Walkowitz, Judith R. "The 'vision of Salome': cosmopolitanism and erotic dancing in Central London, 1908-1918." American Historical Review. 108(2): 337-376, Apr 2003.
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