John Rykener

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John Rykener
Born 14th century
Nationality British
Other names Johannes Richer
Occupation Transvestite prostitute

John Rykener, known also as Johannes Richer and Eleanor, was a 14th-century transvestite prostitute working mainly in London (near Cheapside), but also active in Oxford. He was arrested in 1395 for cross-dressing and interrogated. The records have survived, the only surviving legal records from that age which mentions same-sex intercourse.

During his interrogation, Rykener claimed to have had many clients including priests, monks and nuns; he said that he preferred priests because they paid better than others. He revealed that one Franciscan friar had given him a gold ring, and that a Carmelite friar and six foreigners, "of whom one gave Rykener twelve pence, one twenty pence, and one two shillings."[1] A fictionalized version of John/Eleanor Rykener appears as a prominent character within Bruce Holsinger's recent historical novel, A Burnable Book, set in London in 1385 during the time of Richard II.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Bruce Holsinger: A Burnable Book: New York: Viking: 2004

Further reading[edit]

  • David Lorenzo Boyd and Ruth Mazo Karras, "The Interrogation of a Male Transvestite Prostitute in Fourteenth-Century London", GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 1 (1995): 459-65
  • David Lorenzo Boyd and Ruth Mazo Karras, "Ut cum muliere: A Male Transvestite Prostitute in Fourteenth Century London". In Premodern Sexualities. Edited by Louise Fradenburg and Carl Freccero. (London: Routledge, 1996), 99-116

External links[edit]