On-going LGBTQ visual art Timeline Project

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Key to symbols in a person’s dates:- 

Joe or Jane Bloggs (1800-1900) = queer or largely queer
(1800-1900<>) = bisexual to some degree
(1800-1900*) = straight
(1800-1900?) = I’m undecided or have not found evidence… yet

Where you see square brackets – for instance [see UK 1945] or [see EU 1945] these refer to other entries that relate or continue the story. Some timelines await uploading. It will give you a reason to return!  

I do not assume non-same sex marriages are proof of heterosexual orientation or that sexual activity in such marriages or offspring of them predicates heterosexuality (I will be writing a post about this soon).



John Harris is prosecuted for “circulating prints, the only tendency of which was to destroy whatever is most respectable or most amiable in the community of mankind. They were beyond description infamous and abominable.” Harris was confined for two years in the House of Correction but also put in in the pillory at Charing Cross for an hour. The Morning Chronicle described him as a monster who had been put in pillory twice before for an attempt to commit an unnatural crime.

print seller


Mother Clap’s ‘molly house’

The White Swan public house in Vere Street London is raided. Spasms of homophobia in the 18th century led to crack-downs. From the late 1690s to the early 1710s, the Societies for the Reformation of Manners led hunts for homosexual men, using spies and provocateurs to close down molly houses and prosecute individuals. The vigilantes Christopher Hitchen and Jonathan Wild were behind a wave of prosecutions in the early 1700s famously including the raid on Mother Clap’s ‘molly house’. Molly houses were the 18th century equivalent of a gay club and something of the kind could usually be found if you were queer. The Cleveland Street prosecutions of the 1890s revolved around a more elite set of clients using a gay brothel. Later in the eighteenth century, waves of prosecutions are identifiable in the 1750s and 1770s. Penetration to climax was the worst offence but without proof third party witnesses, the charge was usually “assault with sodomitical intent.”


Ladies of Langollen

The Swansea Glamorgan Pottery issue their ‘Ladies of Langollen’ Blue & White transfer printed pattern wares. The engraving depicts two women on horseback, one talking to a farmhand holding a scythe, against a setting of a Welsh landscape with a large turreted house. The ladies, Lady Eleanor Butler and the Hon Sara Ponsonby, were national celebrities who set up home together in Plas-Newydd, Wales in 1779. From Anglo-Irish, land-owning families, they first decided to elope and live together in 1778 but were prevented. Adamant that they would not be controlled, their families consented and the pair moved Plas Newydd in Llangollen where they remained for nearly fifty years. Just like the Amazons of Paris 100 years later they dressed in riding habits and wore their hair cropped, giving them a distinctive masculine appearance. Women in masculine dress could in extreme cases be prosecuted; wearing a more masculine riding habit was an option that afforded women escape from the restrictive codes and freedom to literally get away.

ladies 1
ladies 2

Their lives were spun as a model of perfect friendship and their motives in choosing this unusual way of life were much speculated upon. They were visited by many national and literary figures of the day, including the Duke of Wellington, William Wordsworth, Sir Walter Scott, Edmund Burke and Josiah Wedgwood. One of the most famous images is a lithograph by Richard James Lane (1800-1872) made from Lady Leighton’s life study of the companions seated, at the table covered in objects, their cat in the foreground, in the library at Plas Newydd, Llangollen. Their cats were also painted (anonymously) almost as stand-ins for their relationship. Another print made by James Henry Lynch (-1868) shows the elderly ladies standing outside in full black capes and this image was used for Staffordshire flat-backed pottery figures and fairings. The quaint apparently non-sexual portrayals should be compared with that left by Anne Lister (1791-1840), who had same-sex relationships [see 1843] and was referred to as Gentleman Jack on account of her masculine dress. Writing in 1822 she said: “I cannot help thinking that surely it is not platonic. Heaven forgive me, but I look within myself and doubt. I fear the infirmity of our nature and hesitate to pronounce such attachments un-cemented by something more tender still than friendship.” Such a relationship, should it be explicit, would not have ‘amused’ or been romanticised but Butler’s journals nonetheless refer to sleeping in the same bed with her “Beloved”. The image of the elderly lesbian as de-sexualised and quaint begins with the Ladies of Langollen, but perhaps ends with the full translation and publication of Anne Lister’s coded diaries.


Mathusalah Spalding woodcut

An engraving from William Jackson’s ‘New and Complete Newgate Calendar, or Malefactor’s Universal Register’ shows Methusalah Spalding (along with murderer Anne Hurle) and again in the cart prior to being hanged. Spalding was sentenced to death (Old Bailey Sessions Book, No. X.24) and hanged in February 1804 for having ‘a venereal affair’ with James Hankinson.



Bishop Tomlinson

Cambridge Conversazione Society or Cambridge Apostles

The Cambridge Conversazione Society is founded by George Tomlinson. It is an intellectual secret society at the University of Cambridge. It will later become known as the Cambridge Apostles on account of the number (twelve) of the founders. Membership consists largely of undergraduates, members traditionally drawn from St John’s, King’s and Trinity Colleges. Two periods in particular will be strongly associated with homosexuality. The period before WWI, when many of the Bloomsbury writers are members, and a little later as the breeding ground of the Cambridge Spies with the art historian Anthony Blunt and his lover Julian Bell both being members.


The Vagrancy Act

The Vagrancy Act, designed to prevent rampant begging is introduced. It includes a clause banning the sale of indecent prints in a street or highway. This unassuming clause is the trigger for much prudery. 


Offences against the Person Act 1828

The Buggery Act 1533 was repealed and replaced by the Offences against the Person Act 1828. It is worth noting that ‘buggery’ was originally, and continued to be thought of as an “unnatural sexual act against the will of God and man”. In America the definition included oral sex in some states. Basically if it wasn’t missionary position, man on top, you might be in trouble. In Britain the original act referenced Anal sex and bestiality and proof of ejaculation was necessary. Under the Offences against the Person  Act buggery would remain a capital offence until 1861 and penetration was all that was needed to convict.


Pratt Smith

John Pratt and John Smith

John Pratt and John Smith become the last two Englishmen hanged for sodomy in front of the Newgate Prison in London on the 27th of November.


Vagrancy Act (1824)

The 1824 Vagrancy Act is amended to introduce a number of new public order offences that were deemed to be likely to cause moral outrage. The ban on exposing indecent prints in a street or highway is extended to those who exposed the same material in any part of a shop or house. This became the main method of banning art, whether high or low that tended to ‘deprave or corrupt’ (in the puritan view).



John Ruskin

John Ruskin (1819-1900?) publishes the first volume of ‘Modern Painters: their Superiority in the Art of Landscape Painting to the Ancient Masters’, under the pseudonym “a Graduate of Oxford”. Ruskin a proponent of Gothic and the early Renaissance became a strong supporter of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood [see1848].   

Ann Walker inherits a lifetime interest in Shibden Hall, home of her lover Anne Lister landowner, business woman, intrepid traveller, mountaineer and lesbian [see 1814]. Her family conspire to have her forcibly removed to an asylum in York and the house rented out. Anne Lister’s library was sold but the family papers were kept stacked away until on Walker’s death 1855, Shibden was inherited by John Lister (1802-1867*). A descendent John (1847-1933*), the last Lister owner of Shibden, a keen historian, founder President of the Halifax Antiquarian Society, partially cracked what Lister called her ‘amorosos’ code of her journals (1806-1840). He was advised to burn them on account of the lesbian content. Lister did not, and in 1988 the journals were fully decoded by Helena Whitbread. Lister was painted by Joshua Horner in about 1823 and the West Yorkshire Archive holds a drawing from which a lithograph was made; her lovers included Eliza Raine (1791–1869), whom she met in 1832 and married (without legal recognition) in 1834.


Was John Ruskin gay or ?

John Ruskin marries Euphemia “Effie” Chalmers Gray (1828-1897) whom he had known as a child and for whom he had written The King of the Golden River. After 6 years the marriage is unconsummated, Ruskin having been reportedly horrified by the sight of his wife’s pubic hair; Effie has the union annulled and in 1855 she married John Everett Millais. Ruskin continued to pursue unhealthy relationships with women: he proposed marriage to the eighteen-year-old, Rose La Touche (1848–1875): suffering from a debilitating illness (possibly anorexia nervosa) he claimed to have fallen in love with her when she was 10. His later life was dominated by breakdowns and loss of his faith and various pronouncements mark him as particularly screwed up about sex. What exactly it was, a preference for pubescent girls, those like the dis-gendered female nudes of his time, or the possibility that he just didn’t fancy females, has been less investigated than his wider influence on aesthetics. In 1858 John Ruskin and National Gallery Keeper Ralph Wornum burn an unspecified number of sketchbooks from more than 20,000 works of art left to the nation by Turner, who had died in 1851. They deemed them “grossly obscene” and that they could not “lawfully be in anyone’s possession.” Only two were kept, with a note from Ruskin saying they were “evidence of a failing mind.”  Ruskin founded the Working Men’s college in 1854 and backed the experiments of the social reformer Octavia Hill (1838-1912); the resulting social reforms later integrated into government policies and inspired William Morris. 


The Obscene Publications Act

The Obscene Publications Act (20 & 21 Vict. c.83) is introduced making it a criminal offence to produce written material “for the single purpose of corrupting the morals of youth and of a nature calculated to shock the common feelings of decency in any well-regulated mind.” Also known as Lord Campbell’s Act or Campbell’s Act he famously compared the limiting of the sale of pornographic writing with attempts then going through parliament limiting the sale of dangerous drugs. He already had form on this. Soon after becoming Attorney General in 1834 he prosecuted bookseller  Henry Hetherington on the charge of blasphemous libel saying: “the vast majority of the population believe that morality depends on entirely on revelation; and if a doubt could be raised among them that the ten commandments were given by God from Mount Sinai, men would think they were at liberty to steal, and women would think themselves absolved from the restraints of chastity.” Referring to the London pornography trade at the time of the 1857 Act he said it was “a sale of poison more deadly than prussic acid, strychnine or arsenic.” This comment will be re-used again to restrict artistic works in the 20th century.


William Johnson Cory's Ionica

A collection of poems by William Johnson Cory (born William Johnson 1823 – 1892), Ionica, is published by Smith, Elder & Co in London. The poems are mainly pastoral, male-female love and classical in content but several, including Desiderato and An Invocation are perhaps the earliest ‘Uranian’ works. For instance “I never prayed for Dryads, to haunt the woods again; / More welcome were the presence of hungering, thirsting men”. Cory was an educator and poet, born at Great Torrington, and educated at Eton, where he was afterwards a renowned master. His career there was cut short under circumstances that were never fully explained. Howard Overing Sturgis (1855 – 1920) author of the boy-loves-boy novel Tim (1891) was probably a pupil of Johnson’s.

The word Uranian alludes to Plato’s Symposium. The use of it in Britain probably stems from scholars familiar with Greek theories around same sex, man-boy, pederast relationships. But may have also been influenced by Karl Heinrich Ulrichs (1825–95) who used Urning, the German equivalent word, in a series of five booklets (1864–65) which were collected under the title Forschungen über das Räthsel der mannmännlichen Liebe (Research into the Riddle of Man-Male Love). The German word derives from the Greek goddess Aphrodite Urania, created out of the god Uranus’ testicles.

Whatever the origin it was adopted widely by Victorian English speaking advocates of homosexual emancipation to describe a comradely democratic love across class, age and gender barriers. The term in the German context referred to a person of a third sex, a female psyche in a male body sexually attracted to men. It was later extended to cover homosexual gender variant females, and also became associated with a group that studied Classics and promoted pederastic poetry from the 1870s to the 1930s. Uranian poetry, Oscar Wilde, the art of Henry Scott Tuke and Thomas Eakins and the photography of Wilhelm von Gloeden are amongst those referred to in this context but none are neatly position-able as such. The issue of man-boy love in the context of Uranianist theories cannot be ignored in relation to art and homosexuality.

Prone to migrate into arguments associated with pederast and paedophilic interests, it is extremely important when considering such work to have a clear understanding of the various terminologies and of the context of societal norms, around for instance the general age of consent in relation to marriage.  Just as in the late 1960s and early 1970s paedophile groups associated with homosexual rights and that imagery appeared in magazines, the Victorian homosexual theorists and those promoting erotic interaction with adolescents or pre-pubescent children are also muddled in together with homosexuals. Paedophile tendencies, adults seeking inappropriate and non-consensual unlawful sexual contact with pre-pubescent children, are often sloppily confused with those who advocated same sex friendship and erotic interaction with ephebophilic boys (pubescent adolescents). Cultural allowances are often hypocritical as well [see Burton 1886 and Artists Home Journal 1886 for instance].

The latter category needs to be examined in the context of the age of majority (the threshold of adulthood as recognised or declared in law) and the age of licence (means permission, a legally enforceable right or privilege). A license is an age at which one has legal permission from government to do something. Homosexual theorising needs to be seen against heterosexual statutes at the time. The concept of a ‘minor’ and what obtaining ‘majority’ meant in different times and countries, relating to the ages of criminal responsibility and consent, needs to be examined to see if it is reasonable to call similar same sex ideas perverse or abnormal. For instance before 1929, the law in Scotland allowed a girl to marry at twelve years of age and a boy at fourteen; also see 1861 Offences Against the Person Act. In France, Revolutionary legislation in 1792 increased the age to 13 years for girls and 15 for boys (it was previously 12 years for girls and 14 for boys); the Napoleonic Code of 1804 updated this to 15 years for girls and 18 for boys. At least to some extent the homosexual debate around minors or consent should be seen as arguments for same sex equality when encountering events on this timeline that to modern eyes appear beyond the modern norm. 


Repeal of death sentence for sodomy

The sentence of death by hanging for sodomy is replaced by life imprisonment. A total of 8921 men had been prosecuted since 1806 for sodomy with 404 sentenced to death and 56 executed. Under the Offences against the Person Act 1861 the age of consent is set at 12 (reflecting the common law). It was however merely a misdemeanour to have unlawful carnal knowledge of a girl between the ages of 10 and 12. The age of consent was subsequently raised to 13 upon amendments made to the 1861 act in 1875. In 2017 Tate Britain will use the date of this legislation as the starting point of their survey ‘Queer art in Britain’.  


John Addington Symonds

John Addington Symonds (1840-1893) is threatened with expulsion from Magdelan College Oxford, for indiscreet homosexual activity. He had already had an affair with fellow Harrow school pupil and fellow student Willie Dyer in 1858. Suffering a breakdown with a variety of illnesses, a diagnosis of sexual repression was made. The recommended cure was marriage and in 1864 he married Janet Catherine North (1837–1913), sister of the botanical artist Marianne North (1830–1890), lecturing in art at Society for Higher Education for Women. He continued affairs with men including Norman Moor a student at Clifton College from 1869, taking him on trips to Italy and Switzerland. In 1881 a Venetian gondolier, Angelo Fusato (1857–1923) became his final life partner but Symonds’ helped organise an arranged marriage for him which resulted in two sons. He met Angelo whilst staying with his family at Ca’ Torresella, owned by Horatio Forbes Brown (1854–1926) who would become his biographer. Brown’s biography was altered by Edmund Gosse who instructed the London Library and their librarian Charles Hagberg Wright to burn all his other papers. Symonds is one of the heroes of gay art historical studies with significant contributions [see entries in 1873, 1888 and 1891/92]. 


simeon solomon bride sad love

Swinburne and Solomon

At the instigation of the poet and critic Algernon Charles Swinburne (probably introducted to him by Burne-Jones) Simeon Solomon makes a drawing and watercolour of ancient Greek poetess Sappho in a lesbian affair: Sappho and Erinna in a Garden at Mytilene (1864). Other images at this period that address same sex love in a startlingly direct way to modern eyes include ‘The Bride, the Bridegroom, and Sad Love’ (1865) and the boys in ‘Two Acolytes Censing’ (1863). Greatly influenced by Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s poetry, in 1871 Solomon will write a prose poem ‘A Vision of Love Revealed in Sleep’, in which a narrator and his soul journey whilst in a dream state, experiencing visions of various forms and conditions of true love. When Solomon was arrested for cottaging [see 1873] Swinburne dropped him without a second’s thought.


Outlawing of Same Sex Marriage

Lord Penzance’s judgment in the case of Hyde v. Hyde and Woodmansee centring on polygamy defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. The judgement that marriage “as understood in Christendom is the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman, to the exclusion of all others”, is that which prevents future same-sex marriages into the 21st century.


Walter Pater and Winckelmann

Walter Pater (1839-94) publishes an essay on Winckelmann, examining his Hellenism and homoeroticism. His relationships include Ingram Bywater (1840-1914) whilst at Queen’s College, Oxford in 1860, the painter Simeon Solomon  (1840-1905), and poet Swinburne between the end of the 1860s and1873. Pater himself faced expulsion from Oxford when indiscreet letters came to the attention of the Oxford authorities. The Winckelmann piece and new essays were collected into his Studies in the History of the Renaissance (1873). The anti-religious aspects and queer references began to receive snide attention. According to Josephine M Guy (The Victorian Age: An Anthology of Sources and Documents, Routledge, 1998) considerable hostility over what was seen as amoral hedonism was directed towards Pater by reviewers. A caricature of Pater appeared as the form of the aesthete “Mr Rose” in William Hurrel Mallock’s satire ‘The New Republic or Culture, Faith and Philosophy in an English Country House’ first serialised in Belgravia magazine in 1876-7 and in book form in 1877. Mallock (1849–1923*), who depicts ‘Mr. Rose’ as an effete, impotent, sensualist with a penchant for erotic literature and beautiful young men, was at Baillol, graduating the same year as Oscar Wilde. Wilde called Pater’s volume his “golden book”. With pressure mounting from Oxford figures such as Benjamin Jowett, exacerbated by the discovery of his ‘relationship’ with William Money Hardinge, a Balliol undergraduate, when it was re-printed in 1877 Pater omitted the conclusion. Jowett argued in his Plato (1871) that platonic love between men was devoid of sexual activity; Pater disagreed.

Pater and homophobic attacks

Mallock’s satirising book appeared during the competition for the Oxford Professorship of Poetry and prompted Pater to remove himself from consideration. A few months later Pater published what may have been a subtle riposte: “A Study of Dionysus: The Spiritual Form of Fire and Dew.” Pater hoped to be appointed as Slade professorship of fine art at Oxford in 1885, but was again advised that his homosexuality would make this impossible. In his 1888 edition of ‘History of the Renaissance’, presumably with little reason to hope for a position any more, Pater re-instated the supposedly immoral conclusion. Mallock was deeply conservative and an arch anti-socialist. His ‘A Human Document’ (1892) was used by the artist Tom Philips (1937- *) in making his series of prints ‘A Humument’ (the name conflating Mallock’s title) that obscure the original text to produce a new story with a new protagonist named Bill Toge (replacing the words “together” or “altogether”). When asked about the book, Phillips replied: “It is a forgotten Victorian novel found by chance … plundered, mined, and undermined its text to make it yield the ghosts of other possible stories, scenes, poems”. He was not quite as forgotton as Philips thought. According to one of President Reagan’s favourite neo-cons Russell Kirk, Mallock spent his life in a “struggle against moral and political radicalism” and the homophobic writer has a meaty entry in Kirk’s ‘The Conservative Mind’ (1953).


Alfred Charles de Rothschild

At the age of 26 Alfred Charles de Rothschild (1842-1918) becomes a director of the Bank of England. He will also become a Director of the Wallace Collection and of the National Gallery. Despite claims that he fathered Almina, wife of 5th Earl of Carnarvon he was almost certainly homosexual.


Problem in Greek Ethics

John Addington Symonds (1840-1893) writes the first history of homosexuality in English: ‘Problem in Greek Ethics’. It remains unpublished for a decade but it was then issued privately in limited edition and includes the use of the term homosexuality and refers to pederasty as “that unmentionable custom” (a term also used by Burton in his discussion of the Arabian Nights). His translation of Michelangelo’s poetry, ‘The Sonnets of Michael Angelo Buonarroti’ (1878) and his translation of ‘The Life of Benvenuto Cellini’ (1888) follow [see also 1891 and 92]. The ‘problem’ was republished in 1891 but in art he is perhaps best known for his ‘Renaissance in Italy’, 7 vol. (1875–86). Symonds’ marriage and children still makes scholars insist on prevaricating about his sexuality and suggests he merits a bisexual notation. His late autobiography was tampered with [see 1894]  but his career excavating homosexuality in art suggests his sexual identity was homosexual. Anyone doubting this should look at ‘Soldier Love and Related Matter’, openly-published  by Symonds in Germany, which makes crystal clear his inborn homosexuality. An English translation was not published until 2007

Simeon Solomon caught cottaging

Simeon Solomon (1840-1905 ) is caught having sex with a working-class man in a public lavatory off Oxford Street in 1873. The working man, George Roberts a sixty-year-old illiterate stableman, got 18 months’ hard labour Simeon the same but light labour, which was then reduced to police supervision. A year later, he was caught again in a Parisian public lavatory with the male prostitute Henri Lefranc. His career as a prominent pre-Raphaelite artist was not entirely destroyed but his brother Abraham, arguably a more prominent artist at the time, is said to have had his career ruined. In 1885 he was admitted as a ‘broken-down artist’ to St Giles’s Workhouse in Endell Street and lived there intermittently until his death. D.G. Rossetti told Jane Morris that Simeon had been admitted to hospital ‘not only ragged but without shoes!’ Solomon notably painted figures that stand betwixt male and female, androgenous in-betweens. His Bacchus is not the fat fellow  usually depicted but effeminate bisexual crossdresser of his early myth, Sappho and Erinna in a Garden at Mytilene canooddle and the emperor Heliogabalus is beautiful in his perversity. In ‘The Bride, The Bridegroom, and Sad Love’ the naked bridegroom kisses the bride whilst, unseen by her, he clasps the hand – and genitals – of the male angel of Sad Love.

Count Eric Stanislaus Stenbock and Simeon Solomon

The Illustrated London News detected ‘effeminate insanity’ in them but a new generation was introduced to his drawings and paintings via reproductions made by the London photographer Frederick Hollyer. These began to appear on the walls Oxford’s students including Oscar Wilde as well as Lionel Johnson, part of the Rhymers’ group of poets that would include W. B. Yeats, Arthur Symons, and Ernest Dowson. An associate of this circle was Count Eric Stanislaus Stenbock (1860-1895). The Anglo-Baltic-German aristocratic homosexual, a friend of Wilde and More Adey, searched him out and became a patron and friend, giving him clothes, food and money, and providing the a small studio. As a result Herbert Horne in Horne’s Arts and Crafts periodical The Century Guild Hobby Horse and the Studio [see 1893] published his work. From 1892 the artist’s work was again being sold (by W. A. Mansell & Co on Oxford Street) and thanks to export of Frederick Hollyer’s reproductions his work was becoming well known in America. In 1896 one hundred of Solomon’s watercolour paintings and drawings were exhibited at both the McClees Gallery in Philadelphia and the Klackner Gallery in New York. The first monograph on Solomon (1908) was written by American author Julia Ellsworth Ford. In the 1880s and ‘90s, despite a dependency on alcohol, periods of chronic poverty and time spent in and out of the St. Giles Workhouse in one of London’s poorest areas, Solomon continued to work.  A memorial retrospective was held just after his death at the workhouse but it would take the writing of Emmanuel Cooper (‘Sexual Perspective’ and the catalogue for ‘High Art And Low Life – The Studio And The Fin De Siecle’ V&A 1993) and in particular Neil Bartlett [see 1987] to stir up interest for 100 anniversary of his death (A travelling exhibition ‘Love Revealed’ visits Birmingham, Munich and London in 2005/6).

simeon solomon bacchus 1867


Henry Scott Tuke in London

Henry Scott Tuke moves to London, where he enrols at the Slade School of Art studying under Alphonse Legros and Sir Edward Poynter. In 1877 he won a scholarship before traveling in Europe [see 1880 Euro].


Oscar Browning and William Johnson

Oscar Browning (1837-1923) master at Eton College is dismissed in the autumn of 1875 following a major scandal involving several of his pupils at Eton. His dismissal was explained by his supporters as being the result of “his injudicious talk, his favourites, and his anarchic spirit.” He would return to King’s College, Cambridge, where he was a fellow and tutor and where he had been inducted into the exclusive Cambridge Apostles, a debating society for the Cambridge elite [see 1885]. He was not the only Eton master to fall victim to accusations. In 1872 William Johnson (later William Johnson Cory, 1823 –1892) educator and poet was dismissed by the headmaster James Hornby on account of an “indiscreet letter” which Johnson had written to a pupil that was intercepted by the parents.

Pupils at Eton are typically aged 13 to 18 years of age: ephebophilic or pubescent boys. There is cause to doubt that any sexual activity was involved in either case (Hornby himself denied it). William C. Lubenow has suggested that the headmaster disliked the less disciplinarian tutors approach and Platonic attitude to mentoring boys. In 1924 a book titled Ionicus was published in tribute to Johnson by Reginald Baliol Brett, 2nd Viscount Esher (1852 –1930<>), with whom Johnson is alleged to have enjoyed a relationship when he was a schoolboy. Lord Esher, a historian as well as a statesman, together with the homosexual Liberal MP Lewis (“Loulou”) Harcourt (1863-1922<>) established the London Museum, which opened its doors on 5 March 1912. The dedication mentions three Prime Ministers (Rosebery, Balfour, and Asquith) “who at Eton learnt the elements of high politics from IONICUS.”


leonardo da vinci angel in the flesh angel incarnate c1513 141

Royal collection loses erotic Leonardo

Carl Rutland, who was the Royal Librarian at Winsor Castle before 1870 enquires about the fate of ‘negatives or stones’ relating to a project to issue a facsimile catalogue of all the Da Vinci drawings in the collection. According to Aydua Scott-Elliot (as recounted by Brian Sewell), Keeper of Prints and Drawings in the 1950s, the drawings at the time of his tenure included a number of explicit homoerotic images. In order to exclude them from the catalogue that was to be published it was ‘arranged’ that a visiting scholar known to be homosexual or the representative of the German publishers should be left alone with the drawings to allow the difficult images to disappear. These drawings would have a provenance traceable only to about the 1860s and would not have the Royal Collection stamp (the stamp was put on the Leonardos only in 1901). In 1991 Carlo Pedretti published such a drawing depicting Leonardo’s lover Salai as an ithyphallic angel. (Achademia Leonardo Vinci Vol IV, pl. 11). The drawing was not widely known until it was exhibited in Sweden in 1993/94.

Jane Harrison, Eugénie Sellers and Mary Beard

Odyssey in Art and Literature by Jane Harrison (1850-1928) appears. Towards the end of the decade she will become intimate friends with Eugénie Sellers and begin writing for Woman’s World (a periodical edited by Oscar Wilde) on the subject of ‘The Pictures of Sappho’. She was a central figure in a group known as the Ritualists; there were some male relationships with colleagues that did not lead to marriage. In retirement she lived in Paris and London with Hope Mirrlees (1887–1978) a translator, poet and novelist and “her spiritual daughter”.  Harrison drew similarities between modern collegiate life and the female world that allowed Sappho to flourish questioning gender stereotypes by outlining the varied models of womanhood.  In 1920 Virginia Woolf cited Harrison in the New Statesman when she countered Arnold Bennett and Desmond McCarthy’s accusation that women were inferior scholars. Her memoirs were published by Leonard and Virginia Woolf’s Hogarth Press and she appears in Virginia Woolf’s ‘A Room of One’s Own’ as “J–H–of Fernham”. In that book Wolfe cites Harrison, Vernon Lee [Violet Paget, see 1881] and Gertude Bell as the three prime non-fiction women authors. The classicist Mary Beard, in her study of Harrison [see 2000] examined the tortured way in which both rigorous scholarship and lesbophobia have kept her sexuality veiled.    


Ethel Warker and Clara Christian

Ethel Walker (Ethel Walker DBE ARA 1861 – 1951) meets fellow artist Clara Christian (1868-1906<>) at Putney School of Art. They begin living, working and studying together first in Pulborough in Sussex then in Chelsea. Born in Edinburgh Walker’s work shows the influence of Puvis de Chavannes, Gauguin and Asian art but rather than her still lives it is her ambitious images of female nudes which are distinctive. They travelled together to Spain and stopped in Paris on their return meeting George Moore (1852 – 1933<>). The novelist was noted for portraying prostitution, extramarital sex and lesbianism, themes the Impressionists, with whom he mixed and wrote about, also tackled. His books ‘A Drama in Muslin’ (1886), a satire set in Anglo-Irish society and Esther Waters (1894) have undercurrents of same-sex relationships among the unmarried daughters of the gentry. His favourite motto was “to be ashamed of nothing but of being ashamed.”

Nausicaa and Her Maidens tate
dame ethel walker reclining nude

Clara Christian and George Moore

Christian owned two houses in Cheyne Walk, London and one at number 38 was converted into studios and this was where Walker lived and worked there for the rest of her life. She was described in later life dressed in “severe tailored costumes with shirt and tie and felt hat”. Christian visited Ireland in 1900 and became the mistress of George Moore when he returned to live in 1901 and appears as ‘Stella’ in his three volume memoire ‘Hail and farewell’ (1911-14); Walker is ‘Florence’.  Christian married an architect Charles McCarthy but died in childbirth shortly afterwards.

Dame Ethel and Grace English

Walker also had a cottage at Robin Hood’s Bay in North Yorkshire where she painted in the summer perhaps inspiring her women posed by the sea shore. Despite being shown in the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale four times (in 1922, 1924, 1928 and 1930) she would only achieve ARA status and was made a Dame at the age of 82. She was adamant, however, that she did not like being classified by her gender. When three of her paintings were offered to the Tate in 1947, two by her loyal friend Grace English RA (1891–1956?) one by the artist herself, they were all turned away. They do now have ‘The Zone of Hate’ and ‘The Zone of Love’ that reflect her interest in esoteric philosophy. English, a painter of female nudes herself, wrote a monograph on Walker but it remained unpublished.

Nude by Grace English
Nude by Grace English


Clementina (‘Kit’) Anstruther-Thomson by JS Sargent
Clementina (‘Kit’) Anstruther-Thomson by JS Sargent

Clementina ‘Kit’ Anstruther-Thomson and Violet Paget

Violet Paget (1856-1935), British by ethnicity, born in France and resident in Florence, arrives in England. She had published her ‘Studies of the Eighteenth Century in Italy’, after ten years of manuscript research, the year before and it had resulted in an invitation from fellow writer/art historian Walter Pater. Writing as Vernon Lee she would write prolifically on art, travel, memoirs, religious essays, aesthetics, literary criticism and, more famously, the supernatural, poetry and historical short fiction, as well as contributing to The Yellow Book. In 1884 she published Euphorion: being Studies of the Antique and the Mediaeval in the Renaissance which confirmed her reputation as an art writer. In London she met a fellow female classicist, Eugénie Sellers (later Strong, 1860-1943) but her life-long lover was to be the painter Clementina (‘Kit’) Anstruther-Thomson (1857-1921). Her 1905 ‘Spirit of Rome, leaves from a diary’ was far too earthy for The Saturday Review of Politics, Literature, Science and Art (Volume 101) who called it “blurred, disjointed, smudgy scraps raked together from an unsavory old note-book, and here rather patronizingly flung to the educated public…  it will interest no human being now alive”, continuing “there is nothing of the spirit of Rome in these pages, which are possessed instead by the spirit of nastiness. ‘Sluttish’, ‘frowsy’, ‘lousy’, ‘lousiness’, are among the writer’s favourite words, used, we suppose, to give ‘forcefulness’ to the stuff.” The review did not appreciate, for instance, her description of Romans as: “Tatters, squalor, with that abundant animal strength and beauty… one feels that they have been eating and drinking, and befouling the earth and the streets with the excrement of themselves and their lives”. She said that the Sistine Chapel’s painting’s were full of “thighs and shoulders hitting one as it were in the eye”.  

A Queer Teapot

James Hadley (1837-1903*) models a teapot that is double sided and it is registered on 21st December by Worcester Royal Porcelain Company Limited. The design is not his own. On one side a long haired flamboyant man genuflects, hand on hip forming a handle with limp wrist as the spout; a sunflower is pinned across his chest. To the reverse a woman wearing an Arum lily takes the same pose. The pot satirises the popularity of the Aesthetic Movement and is specifically based on characters in Gilbert and Sulivan’s Opera ‘Patience’. The makeup and costume adopted by the first actor to play Bunthorne (George Grossmith) used Swinburne’s velvet jacket, the painter James McNeill Whistler’s hairstyle and monocle, and knee-breeches like those worn by Oscar Wilde and others. The cast photographs (Frank Thorntonas, Durward Lely and Richard Temple) were issued in cabinet photographs by Elliott & Fry, London, 1881. The base of the archetypal camp teapot is inscribed in puce ‘FEARFUL CONSEQUENCES – THROUGH THE LAWS OF NATURAL SELECTION AND EVOLUTION OF LIVING UP TO ONE’S TEAPOT’. The factory and diamond registration mark are accompanied by the name “Budge”. It is worth noting that Wilde’s extravagant costume was suggested by his straight manager (associated also with the opera company) for a tour of America; his own choices were not camp but more in dandy style.  

camp teapot


Henry Scott Tuke and his lads

Henry Scott Tuke returned to Cornwall to live in Newlyn. As a founder-member of the Newlyn school he is associated with artists such as T. C. Gotch and Stanhope Forbes. In 1885 he moves to Falmouth settling at Pennance Point overlooking Falmouth Bay, and paints his two great passions, sailing and young men. Several of his models, Arthur Tanner, John Downing and Jim Diamond, assist in converting an old French brigantine, the Julie of Nantes, into a floating studio for Tuke to paint from.  It was to become the setting for many of his paintings with living quarters where he could pose his models and entertain his friends. His models would include Edward John “Johnny” Jackett (1878–1935), Charlie Mitchell (who looked after Tuke’s boats), Willie Sainsbury (Tuke’s nephew), Leo Marshall, Georgie and Richard Fouracre, George Williams (son of a neighbours), Ainsley Marks, Maurice Clift (nephew of a family friend who died in WWI), Jack Rowling, Freddy Hall, Bert White and Harry Cleave. Emmanuel Cooper, who wrote an early monograph on Tuke focusing on the homoerotic paintings, encountered resistance and obstruction in compiling his book unashamedly addressing questions about his possible sexual interest in the youths [see 1987]


The Criminal Law Amendment Act and Henry Labouchere

MP Henry Labouchere (1831-1912*) introduces a clause to The Criminal Law Amendment Act late in the evening of 6 August. The act is mainly concerned with underage prostitution of girls but his addition provided for a term of imprisonment “not exceeding two years”, with or without hard labour, for any man found guilty of gross indecency with another male, whether “in public or in private”. Gross indecency but is not defined but will be interpreted as any male homosexual behaviour short of actual anal intercourse (an even more serious and separate crime). Generations of men having consensual sex will have their lives ruined by this sneaky Act. Labouchere was not exactly morally perfect himself. A gambler, vehement opponent of feminism, a virulent anti-semite, a cheat and liar, he was at the time living with the married Henrietta Hodson out of wedlock (they married after her first husband died in 1887). His personal weekly journal, Truth (started in 1877) was often sued for libel. The Amendment came into force in 1887.

National Vigilance Association

In August the National Vigilance Association was formed, including on its council W .T. Stead whose sensationalist articles exposing child prostitution in the Pall Mall Gazette had increased pressure for tighter legislation of public morals. The methods he used in pursuit of them were highly exploitative and questionable. The NVA and the main public lending libraries, such as Maudie’s and W H Smith, worked to keep anything other than the ‘normative’, anything sexually perverse or explicit in any sense, out of mainstream publishing. The libraries could make or break authors and, via a mutually beneficial insistence on novels issued in three volumes, ran fiction with publishers that precluded mass circulation of dissenting voices. George Moore (1852-1933*), whose book Modern Painting (1893) would introduce Impressionism to Britain, responds with a provocative pamphlet against their campaigns. In ‘Literature at Nurse: Or, Circulating Morals (The decadent consciousness)’ and later in defence of his publisher Henry Vizetelly who was prosecuted by the NVA for issuing unabridged mass-market translations of French realist novels, he argues in defence of free speech.

George Moore

Moore, initially trained as a painter at the studio of Rodolphe Julian in Paris, had sampled Bohemian sexual opportunities and diversity, which appears in his work. ‘Flowers of Passion’ (1878) a poor imitation of Baudelaire’s volume of poems, ‘Les Fleurs du mal’ [see euro 1857] was followed by Pagan poems (1881).  In ‘A Mere Accident’ (1887), based on Moore’s cousin Edward Martyn, a homosexual seeks to bury his instincts in a loveless marriage, but is saved by the accident of the title. Adventurous sexual themes are continued in ‘Celibates’ (1895), a collection of studies in sexual and emotional disorientation including repressed homosexuality, lesbianism, and transvestism. ‘Muslin’ (1915) includes a short story with lesbianism amongst its themes and ‘The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs’ (printed privately in 1918, and as part of  ‘Celibate Lives’ in 1927) is about a woman who lives life as a man (made as a film in 2011). Moore described her, not as a lesbian but as a “perhapser” who takes love where she can without stipulating or distinguishing gender. One of those ‘perhapsers’, who made a pilgrimage to the writer was John Glassco [see 1927].

Charles Ashbee and Edward Carpenter

Designer Charles Robert Ashbee (1863-1942) [see also 1895] meets Edward Carpenter in May who gives him a portrait of Walt Whitman. They meet again later in the winter and his ongoing discussion with Carpenter about homosexual inclinations becomes more explicit in 1886.  Ashbee was heavily influenced by Carpenter’s social realist outlook, which rejected the romanticised handmade artefacts (favoured by Omega Workshop and Ruskin) for a more practical socialist industry. The muscular labour of the machine age was attractive but not the conditions or the substandard workmanship turned out merely for money. He was shocked at a Sheffield manufactures to see thousands of ‘uncanny’ (poor quality) knives stamped ‘Superior’: he noted in his journal “To think there should be a lie stamped on every blade.”

Oscar Browning, Virginia Woolf and Roger Fry

At Cambridge Oscar Browning [see 1875] the English writer, historian, and educational reformer [see 1875], mistakenly made the arch villain of Virginia Woolf’s feminist manifesto A Room of One’s Own, was a strong influence on Ashbee. Ashbee’s closest friend was Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson with whom he discusses Neoplatonism. In 1887 Dickenson would fall in love with Roger Fry, who is also studying at Cambridge; the relationship was intense but non-sexual. They were members of the Cambridge Conversazione Society, better known as the Cambridge Apostles which over the years was associated with homogenic men. According to the Literary Encyclopaedia, Dickinson’s sexual proclivities included foot fetishism and unrequited love for young men. His literary executor and biographer was E. M. Forster, who was influenced by Dickinson’s books, but refrained from mentioning sexual details in his 1934 biography.


The Gay Arabian Nights of Richard Burton

Volume 10 of The Arabian Nights by Richard Burton (1821-1890) is privately published with his Sotadic Zone theory included in his terminal essay under the heading ‘Pornography’. The zone derives its name from Sotades, a 3rd-century BC Greek poet who was the chief representative of a group of writers of obscene and pederastic satirical poetry. Burton used it to delineate a geographic zone in which pederasty (romantic-sexual intimacy between a boy and a man) is prevalent and celebrated among the indigenous inhabitants. It circled the Mediterranean, as well as Asia Minor, Mesopotamia and Chaldaea, Afghanistan, Sindh, the Punjab and Kashmir, taking in China, Japan and Turkistan and the South Sea Islands and the New World. He said if within the Sotadic Zone that: “the Vice is popular and endemic, held at the worst to be a mere peccadillo, whilst the races to the North and South of the limits here defined practise it only sporadically amid the opprobrium of their fellows who, as a rule, are physically incapable of performing the operation and look upon it with the liveliest disgust.” The insertion of ‘as a rule’ allows for a multitude of sins but Burton defined it as a custom and not as “le vice contre nature’ which he derides “as if anything can be contrary to nature which includes all things.”


Labouchere Amendment enacted

Parliament enacts section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885, known as the Labouchere Amendment, prohibiting gross indecency between males. Proscecution of ill-defined same sex sexual acts or congress, where buggery or attempted buggery, could not be proven could now be achieved.


Charles Jackson and The Artist and Journal of Home Culture

The lawyer Charles Philip Castle Kains Jackson (1857-1933), who was also a poet, begins editing the periodical The Artist and Journal of Home Culture. Under his editorship content becomes distinctly Uranian. The pederast idealism praised for artists such as Henry Scott Tuke (to whom he dedicated a homo-erotic sonnet entitled “Sonnet on a picture by Tuke”) and Henry Oliver Walker. He brings in similar-minded contemporaries as Frederick William Rolfe, Lord Alfred Douglas and John Addington Symonds. The homosexual, man-boy emphasis declined after his the replacement in 1894 [see that date].


Richard Burton and Priapeia

‘Priapeia, or, The sportive epigrams of divers poets on Priapus’ a Latin text translated by ‘Outidanos (Sir Richard F. Burton) is published privately in an edition of 500 copies.

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray is published by Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine. In this version homoerotic themes are included but his manuscript was much more explicit. Wilde removed a passage where the artist Basil Hallward tells Gray: “It is quite true that I have worshipped you with far more romance of feeling than a man should ever give to a friend. Somehow I had never loved a woman.” Wilde also removed a description of Hallward and Gray walking “home together from the club arm in arm” and Hallward saying “I quite admit that I adored you madly, extravagantly, absurdly”, is changed to merely “I worshipped you”. Even self-censored, some reviewers called for the author to be prosecuted and the expunged lines were used in evidence at his trial in 1895.


John Addington Symonds, Havelock Ellis and Michelangelo

John Addington Symonds’ ‘Life of Michelangelo Buonarroti: Based on Studies in the Archives of the Buonarroti Family in Florence’ appears. It reveals that the Buonarroti archives had altered the artist’s poems and letters in their publication to hide his homosexuality. The same year Symonds commission Havelock Ellis (1859-1939) to co-write a book on “Sexual inversion” (homosexuality).


Oscar Wilde and blackmail

A man called Wood who was known to Lord Alfred Douglas, having found five letters in a coat given to him by Douglas, tries to obtain money for the return four of them. He was paid by Wilde but retained the most intimate. The ploy established that they were incriminating and he and his accomplices returned for more. Wilde decided to call their bluff by saying it would be published as a sonnet and was of no consequence. It worked and the letter was return and a small payment made. On the 4th May The Spirit Lamp, an Oxonion undergraduate magazine edited by Lord Alfred Douglas, publishes the letter written by Wilde to Douglas, transformed into a sonnet by the French poet, Louys. 

Oscar Wilde's love letter to Lord Alfred Douglas

Letter to Lord Alfred Douglas, January 1893 :

My Own Boy, Your sonnet is quite lovely, and it is a marvel that
those rose-leaf lips of yours should have been made no less for
music of song than for madness of kisses. Your slim gilt soul
walks between passion and poetry. I know Hyacinthus, whom Apollo
loved so madly, was you in Greek days.

Why are you alone in London, and when do you go to
Salisbury? Do go there to cool your hands in the grey twilight of
Gothic things, and come here whenever you like. It is a lovely
place – it only lacks you; but go to Salisbury first.

Always, with undying love, yours,



studio with fawn
the cover of the studio volume 1_jpgLarge

The Studio Launches with a cover by Beardsley

The Studio is founded and the first issue in April has a cover by Aubrey Beardsley  and an article about his drawings. Beardsley’s initial poster and cover design was altered however: a fawn in the trees was removed as too suggestive. The publisher was Charles Holme but the initial editor was Charles Lewis Hind (1862-1927) followed by Joseph Gleeson White (1851–1898?). Several of the art journals of this period, including those in part edited by Hind such as The Art Journal (1887–92) and The Academy, have occasion to praise Greek or other homoerotic classical themes in art.  As Emanuel Cooper will point out on the 100th anniversary of the Studio’s founding (in the V&A Catalogue for High Art and Low Life: The Studio and the Arts of the 1890s’, 1993) the very first issue carried “articles or illustrations which made either direct or more discrete references to homosexuality”. These included an article on Lord Leighton’s sculptures ‘The Sluggard’ and ‘Athlete Wrestling a Python’ and Beardsley. It would continue to promote the ‘Greek’ themes with, for instance, an unsigned article in the 15 June 1893 number of The Studio attributed by Timothy d’Arch Smith [see 1888] to Joseph Gleeson White entitled ‘The Nude in Photography’. Three illustrations are captioned ‘From a photograph by Baron Corvo’ [see 1895].

Ashbee's loving cup for James Headham

Charles Robert Ashbee (1863-1942) engraves a copper Twin handled loving cup of his design with the inscription ‘To the ancient, from CRA, on the mournful occasion of his transition into matrimony, April 1893’. The inscription refers to Kings College scholar James Headlam, (later Headlam-Morley, 1863-1929) who was a contemporary and friend of Ashbee’s at King’s College, Cambridge the circle of gay friends that Ashbee made at Cambridge in the mid-1880s. ‘The Ancient’ refers to the Cambridge club of that name. Headlam Morley married the German musician Else Sonntag on 6 April 1893 and would later become a distinguished diplomat and historian. Ashbee is believed to have been a member of the Order of Chaeronea [see 1897] and followed his friend into ‘mournful’ matrimony five years later when he married Janet Forbes a wealthy heiress. He told her of his sexual orientation and the marriage was bumpy but they had four children and 13 years of marriage.  Ashbee set up his Guild and School of Handicraft in 1888 in London, while a resident at Toynbee Hall, one of the original settlements set up to alleviate inner city poverty, in this case, in the slums of Whitechapel.

Ashbee and The Wodehouse, Wombourne

Ashbee would design anything from a house to its interior furniture and decoration. In the 1890s he renovated The Wodehouse near Wombourne for Colonel Shaw-Hellier (1836–1910), commandant of the Royal Military School of Music. Colonel Shaw-Hellier was over 60 when he married his distant cousin Harriett, who was of similar age. The marriage failed and Shaw-Hellier moved to live out his days in Sicily where in 1907 he again commissioned C.R. Ashbee, this time to build him a large villa, named Villa San Giorgio, at Taormina well known for its association with the photographer Wilhelm von Gloeden.

Lot 317 Mallams sale 19th May 2016

Symonds' Whitman

John Addington Symonds publishes ‘Walt Whitman. A Study’


Charles Kains Jackson

The final issue edited by Charles Kains Jackson [see 1888] of The Artist and Journal of Home Culture is made into a manifesto for what he calles the New Chivalry. This is an argument for the moral and societal benefits of pederasty, “the youthful masculine ideal” over the Old Chivalry’s emphasis on the feminine. He promoted erotic male friendship on the grounds of both Platonism and Social Darwinism. He continued to associate with figures in this movement and published poetry (including Finibus Cantat Amor in 1922 and Lysis in 1924).

The Chamelon and The Spirit Lamp

The Chameleon, a homosexual magazine is published. The Chameleon Volume 1, Number 1. London: Gay and Bird, 1894. An undergraduate Oxford magazine whose first and only edition appeared in December of 1894. Published by the Reverend Samuel Elsworth Cottam, M.A. (1863-1943) , an English poet and priest, it was edited by John Francis Bloxam (1873-1928). The Chameleon was intended to follow in the footsteps of The Spirit Lamp, the earlier Oxonian undergraduate magazine edited by Oscar Wilde’s lover, Lord Alfred Douglas. Both magazines celebrate homosexual love, and The Chameleon, whose printing numbered only one hundred copies, sparked an immediate furore in the London press, claimed to be “an insult to the animal creation,” and “garbage and offal.” Alfred Douglas contributed a poem titled “Two Loves,” which concludes with the most famous line in homoerotic literature: “I am the love that dare not speak its name.”

The Bath Club

The Bath Club, a sports-themed London gentlemen’s club is established at 34 Dover Street. Its swimming pool was a noted feature with suspended rings and ropes hanging above. It was the fictional bachelor Drones Club pool of P G Woodhouse and where Francis Bacon will meet Eric Hall.


Oscar Wilde makes a bad move

The Eighth Marquis of Queensberry (1844–1900), the half mad vindictive father of Lord Alfred Douglas tries to disrupt the opening performance of Wilde’s play The Importance of Being Earnest, whilst his son is visiting Algeria. He was turned away but on February 18, 1895, he leaves a calling card for Wilde at the Albemarle Club, addressed ‘To Oscar Wilde posing Somdomite [sic]’. Spelling mistake or not homosexual activity was illegal in England and he had been publically accused: hall porter Sidney Wright noted the details of the card’s on its arrival. Wilde did not take the advice of good friend, Robert Ross, and went ahead with a disastrous criminal prosecution of the Marquis.

The three trials of Oscar Wilde

There were three trials. On April 3 the Marquis was in the dock. Unfortunately during questioning Wilde’s responses to queries about his literatures portrayal (The Picture of Dorian Gray in particular) and his personal attitude towards pederasty resulted in charges being brought against him for sodomy. He had a chance to flee but did not and on April 26 a second trial had Wilde in the dock. During this Wilde alluded to both Michelangelo and Shakespeare as fine examples of Greek style love to a mixed reception. He was also asked about his poem ‘Two Loves’ and specifically what he meant by the line “I am the love that dare not speak its name.” The jury could not agree a verdict and a retrial was ordered and began on May 22 and he was convicted of indecent behaviour with men under the Criminal Law Amendment Act and sentenced to two years hard labour.   

Samuel Butler

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) the author of a utopian novel ‘Erewhon’, retracts his poem “In Memoriam H. R. F.,” in a panic fearing it will be read as homoerotic in the light of the Wilde trial. The H R of the title was Hans Rudolf Faesch, a Swiss student who lived with him and another companion Henry Festing Jones whilst in London.   

Brown, friend of Baron Corvo, censors Symonds and

Horatio Robert Forbes Brown (1854 – 1926?) publishes the biography of John Addington Symonds. Symonds [see 1873] had made him his literary executor but both worked on the principle of “I never tell a lie, but I do not tell the whole truth to everyone” (Paolo Sarpi). The Scottish historian, who specialised in the history of Venice and Italy, shared a liking for Venice where morals were loose and friends included pederast Frederick Rolfe (known as Baron Corvo, 1860 – 1913) ), was painted by Henry Scott Tuke in 1899. Rolfe’s photographs of naked youths were been published in art journals [see 1888 and 1893]. Brown and Edmund Gosse suppressed almost entirely reference to Symonds homosexuality in the biography. He obliquely commented on this when writing an equally blurred recollection of Rolfe by commenting “If it was necessary to modify concerning Rolfe – a freelance with no ties – imagine what I was forced to do in my John Addington Symonds books, with his daughters and their husbands insisting on seeing the MS before it was printed!” Brown instructed the burning of most of Symonds papers after his death to the distress of Symonds’ granddaughter.


Havelock Ellis and John Addington Symonds

Havelock Ellis and John Addington Symonds’ investigation of homosexuality is published in German as Das konträre Geschlechtsgefühl in 1896. In English as ‘Sexual Inversion’ (1897) it was suppressed but reissued as ‘Studies in the Psychology of Sex, volume one, Sexual Inversion’ at the insistence of Symonds’ biographer Brown.  Symonds’ children included the nursing pioneer Dame Katharine Furse (1875-1952).  Henry Havelock Ellis, known as Havelock Ellis (1859–1939), was a British physician and psychologist, writer, and social reformer who studied human sexuality. He also published works on transgender psychology. He was a supporter of eugenics but was himself impotent with his first wife, the openly lesbian writer and women’s rights activist Edith Mary Oldham Lees (1861 – 1916). Ellis discovered that he was turned on by water sports (urolagnia or ‘undinism’ as he called it) which his second wife Françoise Lafitte happily performed for him.

Raffalovich and John Gray

Frenchman Marc-André Raffalovich publishes ‘Uranisme et Unisexualité’ a study of homosexuality that attacked medical opinion and the idea that male “inverts” were effeminate degenerates. The following year he begins to compile a bibliography on the subject. Studying first at Oxford in 1888, he wrote it in London where he had opened a salon in 1890. It was here he met his life long companion, the poet John Gray (1866–1934) who was said to be the inspiration behind Oscar Wilde’s fictional Dorian Gray. Wilde attended the salon or “saloon” as he called it.

Charles Bell and the Ashmolean Museum

Charles Bell (1871-1966) becomes assistant keeper at the Ashmolean Museum; in 1908 it became The Ashmolean Museum and Art Gallery and in the following year Bell was made first Keeper of Fine Art. An expert in British Portraits he published little but had interesting influences. T. E. Lawrence (‘Lawrence of Arabia’) (1888-1935) brought fragments of pottery for identification and the two frequently discussed medieval art and architecture. Ultimately this resulted in Lawrence’s donations of Augustus John’s oil portrait of Feisal and charcoal sketch of D. G. Hogarth used in his ‘Seven Pillars of Wisdom’ to the Ashmolean. In 1922 Bell met and carefully shaped Oxford student Kenneth Clark’s early career. Clark’s first book,’ The Gothic Revival in Architecture’ was completed utilising Bell’s notes and is dedicated to him. Clark, notably friendly towards gay men such as Keith Vaughan and others, would succeed him at the Ashmolean.  


Sir Claude Phillips

Sir Claude Phillips (1846-1924) becames the Daily Telegraph’s full time art critic and the first director of the Wallace Collection. Phillips was the nephew of the Telegraph’s founder Joseph Moses Levy. A celibate homosexual he has been described by the online Dictionary of Art Historians as in “the tradition of Oscar Wilde… he was a gregarious, perfumed dandy (though physically stout)”. His writing included series of monograph on major artists in ‘The Portfolio Artistic Monographs’ series, articles to Fortnightly Review, Gazette des Beaux-Arts, Art Journal, the Burlington Magazine and the Magazine of Art. Subjects included contemporary artists such as Gustav Moreau and Pierre Puvis de Chavannes (both homoerotic influencers), and the Post Impressionist exhibitions organised by Roger Fry.

The painter Clementina (‘Kit’) Anstruther-Thomson (1857-1921) and Violet Paget (Vernon Lee) [see 1880] publish ‘Beauty and Ugliness’ in the journal Contemporary Review. It will be re-published in France in 1907 and as part of their 1912 book ‘Beauty and Ugliness and Other Studies in Psychological Aesthetics’ that introduces a new aesthetic to a British tradition still controlled by the work of Walter Pater. The work introduced the concept of empathy (derived from Theodor Lipps studies in ‘Einfiihlung’) into the English language. They describe it as a “real philosophy of beauty and art… an hypothesis which may be compared to that of natural selection in its originality and its far-reaching importance”. From the 1890s, Lee formed a permanent lesbian relationship with Kit living with her six months of every year in Florence experimenting with the psychological aspects of colour and art.  Her travel literature includes ‘Limbo and other Essays’ (1897), an early history of Italian gardens that was admired by Edith Wharton. A study of the notably fey works of Perugino ‘In Umbria: a Study of Artistic Personality’ was published in 1906.

George Cecil Ives and The Order of Chaeronea

The Order of Chaeronea named after the location of the battle where the Sacred Band of Thebes is founded. It is a secret society for the cultivation of a homosexual moral, ethical, cultural and spiritual ethos established by poet and penal reformer George Cecil Ives (1867-1950) who believes that homosexuals will not be accepted openly in society and must become covert in its organising. The battle took place in 338 BC and one of the Order’s codes was the addition of this to the current date: 1888 became 2236. Members include Charles Kains Jackson [see 1888], Samuel Elsworth Cottam [see 1894], Montague Summers (1880-1948) the writer on the occult and witches who published ‘Antinous and Other Poems’ in 1907, dedicated to the subject of pederasty. Another was the school teacher, Uranian poet, and photographer John Nicholson (John Gambrill Francis Nicholson, 1866-1931).  He was in contact with Oscar Wilde, Adolf Brand (1874 –1945), Oscar Browning (1837-1923), Norman Rowland Gale (1862-1942), writer and watercolourist Augustus John Cuthbert Hare (1834-1903), Freud’s biographer Alfred Ernest Jones (1879-1958*), Reggie Turner (Reginald Turner, 1869-1938) author and loyal friend of Oscar Wilde, Edvard Alexander Westermarck (1862 -1939*) the Finnish philosopher and sociologist, author of The History of Human Marriage (1891) and Edward Carpenter (1844 -1929). The Arts & Crafts movement designer Charles Ashbee is also thought to have been a member [see 1893].


Their ‘Rules of Purpose’ for a “Religion, A Theory of Life, and Ideal of Duty” stated that Initiated Brothers of the Faith should to swear that they would “never vex or persecute lovers” and that “all real love shall be to you as sanctuary.” It had a ‘sign-word’ AMRRHAO and a seal of two wreaths: calamus (sacred to Whitman) and myrtle (sacred to the Greeks). Accompanied by a chain (the great chain of lovers), the number 338 (referring to the Sacred Band) and the letters ‘D’ (for discipline), ‘L’ (for learning), and ‘Z (for zeal). Ives said of it: “We believe in the glory of passion. We believe in the inspiration of emotion. We believe in the holiness of love. Now some in the world without have been asking as to our faith, and mostly we find that we have no answer for them. Scoffers there be, to whom we need not reply, and foolish ones to whom our words would convey no meaning. For what are words? Symbols of kindred comprehended conceptions, and like makes appeal to like.” Ives is said to have been the model for Raffles, the fictional Victorian gentleman thief invented by William Hornung, who enjoys a remarkably intimate relationship with his sidekick Bunny Manders. Ives continued to campaign for legal reform [see 1914] and in 1931, the organisation became the British Sexological Society (papers are now held by the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin).


Baron’ Adolph de Meyer's Marriage Blanc

In July the photographer ‘Baron’ Adolph de Meyer (1868-1949) marries Donna Olga Caracciolo, the godchild of Edward VII who had divorced Nobile Marino Brancaccio in the same year. They had met through the Sassoon family and their marriage was a matter of convenience, since he was gay and she was a lesbian. Baron de Meyer wrote in an unpublished autobiographical novel in which he noted “Marriage based too much on love and unrestrained passion has rarely a chance to be lasting, whilst perfect understanding and companionship, on the contrary, generally make the most durable union.” In the early 1900s the house he shared with his wife at 1 Cadogan Gardens was a centre for a coterie of artistic and bohemian guests.

Gayne and Mahrah Adolphus Demeyer and

He joined the Royal Photographic Society in 1893 and then the breakaway photo-secessionist group, the Linked Ring in 1898. In pursuit of the soft focus celebrity world they moved to New York in 1916 where De Mayer became a photographer for Vogue (1913–21) and Vanity Fair. In 1922 Harper’s Bazaar sent him to Paris where he stayed until WWII. Much of his work was lost in the war and he is often regarded as merely a society photographer (of Nijinsky amongst others) and was dubbed “the Debussy of photography” by Cecil Beaton. He was perhaps the first great fashion photographer and amongst his images are strikingly proto-surrealist ones, involving masks and manikins. He died in Los Angeles under the name Gayne Adolphus Demeyer. The name Gayne (and his wife’s Mahrah) was taken on the advice of a medium. The de Meyers were described by Violet Trefusis (who bedded Olga) as “Pederaste and Médisante” because “he looked so queer and she had such a vicious tongue.”  

Gay themed novel Jasper Tristram

The novel Jasper Tristram by E. A. Clarke (Edward Ashley Walrond Clarke, 1860-1913) is published. It delineates the thoughts and emotions of the eponymous youth as he goes through boarding school experiences at Radley College in the late 1870s. His affection for an older boy and later his love for his friend L. C. ‘Elsie’ Southwood make it one of the earliest gay-themed English novels.