john symonds


Edward Carpenter (August 29, 1844 – June 28, 1929), English socialist, poet, philosopher, anthologist and LGBT activist. Born in Hove, Sussex, he was educated at Brighton College and graduated from Cambridge in 1868. He initially became a curate for the Church of England, but grew increasingly dissatisfied with the church as well as despairing at the condition of the working-class poor in England. Additionally, he grew to accept his homosexuality; after the rupture of a brief relationship in college, he had spent time with male prostitutes in Paris; reading the work of the gay, spiritualist American poet Walt Whitman awakened his sense of his own sexuality and his determination to help the less fortunate. He left his position with the church, taught for a while in Leeds, worked with the Socialist Party in Sheffield and, after the death of his father left him financially independent, finally settled in Millthrope, near Barlow, Derbyshire, where he bought land to create a farm. Spiritually, he became fascinated and heavily influenced by Hindu mysticism and Indian philosophy, travelling to India and Ceylon in the 1890-91. On his return to England, Carpenter met and fell in love with a working-class man, George Merrill, 20 years his junior; Merrill moved in with Carpenter in 1898, and their relationship inspired their friend E.M. Forster in the creation of his novel Maurice (written 1913-14, published 1971), which portrays the relationship between the upper-class Maurice Hall and the games keeper Alec Scudder (portrayed in the classic 1987 film adaptation by James Wilby and Rupert Graves, respectively). Carpenter’s home in Millthrope became a magnet for many of the left-leaning luminaries of the era, including Forster, humanitarian Henry S. Salt, sexologist Havelock Ellis, political activists John Bruce and Katherine Glasier, feminist Olive Schreiner, and poet and critic John Addington Symonds. Following Symonds death in 1893, Carpenter became the foremost writer advocating for the acceptance of gay men and women; he also wrote extensively in support of the rights of women (famously exclaiming that marriage is essentially legalized prostitution) as well as socialism and capitalism, nature and the environment; Carpenter was one of the founders of the modern Labour party, though his many radical ideas caused him to be not just vilified by the right but even mocked by some on the left. Following Merrill’s sudden death in January, 1928, Carpenter’s health deteriorated; he suffered a stroke in May of that year, and died the following June. His fierce, almost solitary advocacy of gay rights would inspire subsequent generations.

pour one out for Oscar Wilde
pour one out for Edward Carpenter
pour one out for George Cecil Ives
pour one out for John Addington Symonds
pour one out for Karl Heinrich Ulrichs
pour one out for Charles Kains Jackson
pour one out for Frederick Rolfe
pour one out for Samuel Elsworth Cottam
pour one out for John Gambrill Nicholson
pour one out for all the men who burnt their writing

and all the men that didn’t