The Uranians #1 – the nineteenth/early twentieth century PIE?

A key text associated with the Paedophile Information Exchange and its sister organisations elsewhere is the volume Warren Middleton (ed), The Betrayal of Youth: Radical Perspectives on Childhood Sexuality, Intergenerational Sex, and the Social Oppression of Children and Young People (London: CL Publications, 1986), consisting of a whole series of essays generally written from a pro-paedophile viewpoint. Full details of the contents and contributors can be viewed here; in 2011 Middleton and various other PIE members were jailed for various offences relating to images of child sexual abuse. I have elsewhere posted the text of Steven Adrian Smith’s History of PIE from this book, but want to also post here the second appendix from the book, written by Timothy d’Arch Smith (author of Love in Earnest: Some Notes on the Lives and Writings of English ‘Uranian’ poets from 1889 to 1930 (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1970, of which I have recently received a copy and will post about when I have read more), on the ‘Uranian’ poets, specifically a group of poets devoted to the issue of man-boy love.

A three volume neo-Hellenic apologia was published by Boston aesthete Arthur Lyon Raile (Edward Perry Warren), A Defense of Uranian Love (London: Cayme Press, 1928-30), which can be read online here. A further book on the Uranians entitled Secreted Desires: The Major Uranians: Hopkins, Pater And Wilde (2006) can be read online here. Middleton, as can be seen below, specifically compares them and their offshoot, the British Society for the Study of Sex Psychology, founded in July 1914, with PIE. Recently two anthologies of Uranian poetry entitled Lad’s Love have been published, edited by Kaylor.

Whilst not yet any type of expert on the movement, I find what I read so far deeply sinister, and wonder about the extent to which secret cults of this type were allowed to flourish (perhaps in some of the English public schools?). As I say, I will post more on this subject in due time, but offer the below for your consideration.

Appendix 2: Timothy d’Arch Smith, ‘The ‘Uranians’’, pp. 246-253.

In Britain, the birth of what could be called a politically conscious campaigning paedophile movement occurred around October 1974 with the inception of two groups; PAL – Paedophile Action for Liberation, and PIE – Paedophile Information Exchange. However, after a scurrilous SUNDAY PEOPLE exposé of PAL on May 25th 1974, the group went into a steady decline which, by 1977, resulted in both PAL and its magazine PALAVER being incorporated by the Exchange.

Until the emergence of PIE, never before in the history of this country had such a cohesive group of crusading paedophiles come together so openly to press for changes in the laws and public attitudes. Indeed, the nearest and only comparison one can make is with the Victorian literary clique known as the ‘Uranians’ (or Calamites) and its offshoot, the British Society for the Study of Sex Psychology, founded in July, 1914 by some of the group’s leading lights.

The Uranians consisted largely of undergraduates who extolled the beauty of young boys in their poetry and prose, and much of their work is refreshingly outspoken for the period.

We are indebted to Timothy d’Arch Smith for bringing this remarkable and hitherto unsuspected literary phenomenon to public attention with his brilliantly research study, LOVE IN EARNEST.

For the benefit of those not acquainted with this study, and because the Uranians were the forerunners of PIE, he was asked to expound a little about them for the present book. –ed.

The word ‘Uranian’ was coined by the nineteenth century Austrian jurist, Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, before the word homosexual had been invented. Casting about for at term to embrace a group of poets who celebrated in their verse the love of boys, for whom in any case homosexual would not do, I chose Ulrichs’ word. My book appeared as long as sixteen years ago and yet the name appears to have stuck. Since alternatives – paedophile, paederast – originally discarded as unfamiliar, are now so overloaded with opprobrium synonymous these days almost with monster, perhaps semantical and, astrologers tell us – the word deriving from the planet Uranus – fatidical inexactitudes, it will continue to survive.

The Uranians flourished between 1850 and 1930; approximate but by no means arbitrary dates. Three influences were the cause of their ascension. Urlichs’ pamplets, calling for revisionary views on homosexuality, began to circulate in the 1860s and 70s and their influence soon spread to England for propagation in the 90s by the sexual reformers, Havelock Ellis and John Addington Symonds. Attention was being directed to homosexuality by its incidence at the public schools whose traditional structure nurtured its existence as loving as it zealously stamped out its manifestations; and intense study by boys of the classics, read during the Victorian age as much for their content as for their syntax, directed sympathetic minds to Greek love. Further, as the century progressed, there arose a rebellious dissatisfaction with Victorian ‘stuffiness’ that would lead, in the nineties to the ‘decadent’ movement; a conscious, indeed a self-conscious desire to shock.

The movement, not intendedly one despite mutual ties but retrospectively observable as such, numbered about forty exponents, each the author of at least one volume of unmistakably paedophilic verse. The best of the British, the public school tradition – it must not be forgotten that the Uranian movement was quintessentially British and proud of it – was the Rev. Edwin Emmanuel Bradford (1860-1944). [1] With twelve books to his credit, he was the movement’s most prolific writer. His cheerful verses, airily overlooking any sexual implications, tapped out in rollicking jingles the Uranian philosophy. Of the proselytisers, the campaigners for sexual reform who, in those days, saw no difference between homosexual and paedophilic attachments, or if they did see it, advanced no reason for dissimilar compassion, we may single out Edward Carpenter (1844-1929), author of TOWARDS DEMOCRACY, [2] and John Addington Symonds (1840-1893), who never missed a chance of bending classical and biblical themes to a homosexually allegorical advantage. [3] If we exclude Oscar Wilde, the chief exponents of the decadent school were Wilde’s catamite, Lord Alfred Douglas (1870-1945), [4] and the fashionably shocking Theodore Wratislaw (1871-1933), whose two poems ‘L’Éternal Féminin’ and ‘To a Sicilian Boy’ were almost the only examples of Uranian poetry to have suffered censorship and suppression. [5]

Each of these sub-sections had, of course, its neurotics; obsessive paedophiles who spent their lives thinking of very little else. John Gambril Nicholson (1866-1931), [6] arguably the best poet of them all, friend to his recurrent disadvantage of Fr. Rolfe (‘Baron Corvo’), [7] fell into this category. Ralph Nicholas Chubb (1892-1960), attempted to raise paedophilia to a religion, and his prose-poems, issued in stringently limited editions from his own hand-press, were examples of fanaticism run riot. [8] A late runner in the decadent stakes, Philip Gillespie Bainbrigge (1891-1918), with his smutty pastiche, ACHILLES IN SCYROS, provided the best example of unashamedly erotic verse. [9]

Love of boys – or girls come to that, although there is no similar sub-literature – raises the acutest problems, and although Uranian poetry was, for the most part, not very good, it raised psychologically interesting points. Shot through with simple yearnings – analogy with the negro blues not too far-fetched, both reflecting the discontents of an outcast people – it was permeated with longings for the poets’ lost boyhood; with regrets for the briefness of boyhood’s span; with declarations of the supremacy of Uranian love over other manifestations of affection; its, as it were, rightness.

As might be expected, dissatisfactions outweighed euphoria. Celebrations of untroubled and untrammelled love affairs were few and far between. With admirable stoicism, however, the Uranians were able to console themselves with very little: a boy seen in the street, the sound of a treble voice, glimpses of bare flesh at a bathing place, and on occasions, a kiss. Hard won, of rare occurrence, these to the Uranians were riches indeed. Almost all of the group were quick to assimilate the catachrestic lessons of Symonds, and Uranian poetry abounded with reiterations of the legends of Achilles and Patroclus, Zeus and Ganymede, David and Jonathan.

The most striking curiosity of their verse was an almost unanimous obsession with class distinctions. This slightly reprehensible ‘snobisme’ took the form of the poet (the lover’s) desire for lads of the lower orders. Guttersnipes, lift-boys, oil-begrimed stokers on the knife-edge of puberty bowled over, like so many skittles, are Uranian poets. One wonders why this should have been.

The uniqueness of the Uranians’ ideal lay in their single-minded tenet that society should discard the socially acceptable prerogative of parenthood and allow them to take from a boy such love as he has had, in the past, to reserve for his father and mother at a time in his life when he most needs a trusted adult guide outside the confines of home and school.

That a man may take from a boy the kind of physical donation he should reserve for a girl may present us with a problem of the gravest kind, or it may not; for the Uranians maintained that the very nature of male-to-male experience of sex, with its unwritten code of impermanence, was not callous or immoral but altogether harmless. It was their bravery in throwing down this challenge which demands our attention. [10]

I will conclude this appendix with two poems, the first by Alan Stanley, the second by E. E. Bradford, both of which typified the work of the Uranians.

August Blue

Silver mists on a silver sea,
And white clouds overhead
Sailing the grey sky speedily
To where the east turns red.
And one lone boat her sails has spread,
Sails of the whitest lawn,
That seem to listen for the tread
Of the tender feet of dawn.

The risen sun now makes the sky
An arching roof of gold,
Amber the clouds turn as they fly
Uncurling fold on fold ;
The sun a goblet seems to hold
A draught of fervid wine,
And the young day no longer cold
Glows with a fire divine.

Stripped for the sea your tender form
Seems all of ivory white,
Through which the blue veins wander warm
O’er throat and bosom slight.
And as you stand, so slim, upright
The glad waves grow and yearn
To clasp you circling in their might,
To kiss with lips that burn.

Flashing limbs in the waters blue
And gold curls floating free;
Say, does it thrill you through and through
With ardent love, the sea?
A very nymph you seem to be
As you glide and dive and swim,
While the mad waves clasp you fervently
Possessing every limb.

King of the Sea, triumphant boy,
Nature itself made thrall
To God’s white work without alloy
On whom no stain doth fall.
Gaze on him, slender, fair, and tall,
And on the yearning sea
Who deigns to creep and cling, and crawl,
His worshipper to be.

(From Love Lyrics, 1894)

Boyish Beauty

See the lad, of late a child
Irresponsible and wild
Now look up with earnest eyes
Tender, passionate and wise!
Love has lent him for an hour
Beauty’s holy, awful power;
When he’s ripe for toil and pain,
Love will take it back again.

Boyish beauty comes and goes,
Like a rivulet that flows;
Woman, as a placid pool,
Long is fair if clean and cool.
Yet the running waters shine
With a splendour more divine;
So the fairest woman’s grace
Fades before a boyish face!

(From Boyhood)

NOTES AND REFERENCES

1. Among Bradford’s best known works, all of which were published by the London firm of Kegan Paul, were, THE NEW CHVALRY AND OTHER POEMS (1918); RALPH RAWDON: A STORY IN VERSE (1922); and THE KINGDOM WITHIN YOU AND OTHER POEMS (1927).

2. Carpenter’s TOWARDS DEMOCRACY, which was heavily influenced by Whitman’s LEAVES OF GRASS, first appeared in four parts at various dates, but the complete edition was published in 1905. Carpenter was also the author of many other works, among them, IOLAUS: AN ANTHOLOGY OF FRIENDSHIP (Sonnenschein, London, 1902), which was nicknamed ‘The Bugger’s Bible’.

3. Symonds was a noted classical scholar who wrote many books, among them, MANY MOODS: A VOLUME OF VERSE (Smith, Edler, London, 1878), and ANIMI FIGURA (Smith, Elder, London 1882).

4. Douglas’ best known boylove poems appeared in his SONNETS (Rich & Gowan, London, 1935), and LYRICS (Rich & Cowan, London, 1935).

5. These were included in his extremely rare book, CAPRICES: POEMS (Gay & Bird, London, 1893).

6. Nicholson, a schoolmaster, was author of the paedophilic novel, THE ROMANCE OF A CHOIRBOY (privately printed by F. E. Murray, London, 1916) and four books of boylove poems, including, A CHAPLET OF SOUTHERNWOOD (Ashover Derby, Frank Murray, Mayday, 1896), and A GARLAND OF LADSLOVE (F. E. Murray, London, 1911).

7. Corvo, the genius who died in penury in Venice, was the writer of the well known HADRIAN THE SEVENTH: A ROMANCE (Chatto & Windus, London, 1904), and the scandalous THE DESIRE AND PURSUIT OF THE WHOLE: A ROMANCE OF MODERN VENICE (Cassell, London, 1934). He was also the author of the notorious ‘Venice Letters’.

8. Poet and artist, Ralph Nicholas Chubb (Blake’s Mantle), was theauthor of several limited volumes of poems which were decorated with beautiful hand paintings of boys. Among the best were THE HEAVENLY CUPID: OR, THE TRUE PARADISE OF LOVES (Newbury, the author, 1934); and FLAMES OF SUNRISE: A BOOK [end p. 252] OF THE MANCHILD CONCERNING THE REDEMPTION OF ALBION (Newbury, the author, 1954).

9. ACHILLES IN SCYROS: A CLASSICAL COMEDY (Cayme Press, London, 1927).

10. For those wanting to know more about the Uranians, and see some of their works, read: LOVE IN EARNEST: SOME NOTES ON THE LIVES AND WRITINGS OF ENGLISH ‘URANIAN’ POETS FROM 1889 TO 1930, by Timothy d’Arch Smith (Routledge & Kegan Paul, Lonodn, 1970). FEASTING WITH PANTHERS: A NEW CONSIDERATION OF SOME LATE VICTORIAN WRITERS, by Rupert Croft-Cooke (W. H. Allen, London, 1967). SEXUAL HERETICS; MALE HOMOSEXUALITY IN ENGLISH LITERATURE FROM 1850 TO 1900, by Brian Reade (Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1970). ERO; AN ANTHOLOGY OF FRIENDSHIP, by Patrick Anderson & Alistair Sutherland (Anthony Blond, London, 1961). THE PENGUIN BOOK OF HOMOSEXUAL VERSE, ed. By Stephen Coote, Penguin, Middlesex, 1983). GREEK LOVE, by J. Z. Eglinton (Neille Spearman, London, 1971). MEN AND BOYS: AN ANTHOLOGY (revised edition – the old Coltsfoot Press, New York, 1978).

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8 Comments on “The Uranians #1 – the nineteenth/early twentieth century PIE?”

  1. Troyhand says:

    http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/140092820?searchTerm=uranian poet&searchLimits=
    Woroni – Monday 31 July 1972
    The wickedest man in the world

    Crowley was part of the Edwardian and Georgian reaction to Victorians that was springing up in new sects and religions and a new outspokenness about sexuality. Edward Carpenter had theorised that the homosexual or ‘Uranian’ type was a precursor of a new evolutionary phase in man; Crowley saw himself as an embodiment of two sexes in one person — an equivalent of the ancient androgynous seers, a herald of a new religio-sexual age whose doctrine would be ‘Crowleyanity’!

  2. Troyhand says:

    http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1299&dat=19720608&id=9-VLAAAAIBAJ&sjid=9YsDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6292,2500753
    Village Voice – 8 June 1972
    A refuge among contemporary novels

    MAURICE
    A novel by E. M. Forster

    In the “Terminal Note,” Forster describes the impetus which gave rise to “Maurice” and the conditions in his life the year (1913) he wrote it. He had begun “A Passage to India” the year before, and was in a low period when, at Lowes Dickinson’s suggestion, he paid a visit to Edward Carpenter’s estate at Milthorpe. Carpenter was the high priest of a homoerotic, quasi-mystical cabal called Uranians, and among them Forster was initiated, through a “touch on the buttocks,” into the “Love of Comrades.” If it sounds quaint today, it is no more naively Utopian than some of our own mind/body panaceas – yoga or sensitivity sessions – and seems to have been a good deal more dignified. It was the kind of movement, with its religious and socialist overtones, and its emphasis on personal loyalty, that would appeal to Forster, and it was as a direct result of this liberation that he began “Maurice.” He actually traces it to the touch on his flesh which, in Carpenter’s catechism, would be the moment of conception.

    “Maurice,” then, is Forster’s “natural child”; in it he tries, and fails, to embrace the Dionysian spirit as a sexual rather than a cosmic force…
    ***

  3. Troyhand says:

    http://www.gutenberg.org/files/37356/37356-h/37356-h.htm

    SEX = LOVE,
    AND ITS PLACE IN A FREE SOCIETY: (Second Edition)

    By Edward Carpenter.

    Price Fourpence.

    Manchester:
    The Labour Press Society Limited, Printers and Publishers

    1894.

  4. Troyhand says:

    http://ora.ox.ac.uk/objects/uuid%3A50799b73-2b0e-41c7-b950-077e486f623d
    Oxford University Research Archive

    Quinn, JC and Brooke, C, (2011). ‘Affection in Education’: Edward Carpenter, John Addington Symonds and the politics of Greek love. OXFORD REVIEW OF EDUCATION

    The paper examines Edward Carpenter’s 1899 essay on education that defended the value of powerful same-sex attachments, either between older and younger boys or between teachers and pupils, in the context of Victorian ideologies of same-sex affection. Linda Dowling has described how ‘a homosexual counterdiscourse able to justify male love in ideal or transcendental terms’ was fashioned out of the discourse of Greek studies in 19th-century Oxford by Walter Pater, Oscar Wilde and the Uranian poets. We argue that Carpenter’s position in both ‘Affection in Education’ and his pamphlet on Homogenic love is best interpreted not in terms of this particular counterdiscourse so much as in light of John Addington Symonds’ sharp political reaction against it, a reaction that was grounded in recent historical scholarship on the ancient Greeks and which rejected the idealisation of intellectualised, aristocratic boy-love in favour of a vision of egalitarian sexual relationships between men, and which was, in Carpenter’s own case, very closely associated with his own ideals of social and political progress. © 2011 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.

  5. […] The Uranians #1 – the nineteenth/early twentieth century PIE? (24/5/14) […]

  6. […] links between Wilde and Douglas (and many others) and the ‘Uranian’ movement (who have been described as a predecessor of the Paedophile Infor…, are something about which I intend to write in more detail at a later […]

  7. […] was co-authored with Sheila Rowbotham; Rowbotham wrote on Edward Carpenter, who was a key member of the ‘Uranian’ poets, who have been described as ‘the forerunners of PIE’; the volume completely ignored any of […]

  8. […] The world view of the nineteenth-century aesthete still has a profound impact upon classical music culture, certainly in the UK, US, France and some other places. I have spent quite some time studying this in various contexts (not least the ways in which this outlook can be linked to fascism, as diagnosed in different ways by Walter Benjamin, Roger Shattuck and Frederic Spotts). The aesthetic movement was a type of quasi-aristocratic rearguard group of aesthetes reacting against the growth of bourgeois society and mass culture. They believed moral questions and human interests to be of little importance relative to their own notions of beauty. This beauty was of course something only a small number were in a position to appreciate, an aesthetic aristocracy if you like, and they often viewed other human beings in purely aesthetic terms. I believe this is profoundly dehumanising. There is also a considerable overlap between early aesthetes, including Pater, Wilde, Huysmans, Crowley and others, and the movement of ‘Uranian’ poets and some artists, a group of pederasts who were described in the volume Betrayal of Youth as like a nineteenth-century…. […]


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