Simon Callow on the paedophile exploits of André Gide, Oscar Wilde, Lord Alfred Douglas and othersPosted: July 31, 2014 Filed under: Abuse, PIE | Tags: alan bennett, andré gide, gore vidal, jimmy savile, joe orton, johann hari, john r. bradley, kenneth halliwell, lord alfred douglas, max clifford, north africa, oscar wilde, paedophilia, rolf harris, sex tourism, simon callow, stephen fry 4 Comments
Two quotes from this are especially relevant:
‘Later, by extraordinary coincidence, they [André Gide and Oscar Wilde] met in Algeria, where Gide had finally, but secretly, surrendered to his desire for very young men. Wilde and Bosie, like Halliwell and Orton 70 years later, were up to their necks in sexual tourism, and Wilde, again in Mephistophelean mode, sensing the string in the younger man, casually asked Gide whether he wanted the young musician to whom they were listening.’
‘Robert Ross, Alfred Douglas and Wilde passing round schoolboys between them on dirty weekends, Bosie and Gide having sex with 12- and 13-year old Arab boys, and all of them having compulsive and constant recourse to rent boys, match the worst excesses of the Paedophile Information Exchange.’
Nonetheless, Callow says that ‘it is in the treatment of their wives that both Wilde and Gide are simply indefensible’, as they lied to them and gave away presents. Clearly this to Callow must therefore be a worse crime than the rape of 12-year old boys.
Here is another review of the same book. I note in particular the following passage:
Indeed, much of the material in Andre and Oscar challenges Wilde’s reputation among liberals as a gay icon. If Wilde and Douglas are seen as gay liberators, do their supporters also approve of the activities of child-sex tourists? Or an age of consent for homosexuality so low that it might as well not exist at all? Or the sort of flirtation with the sons of one’s married lovers Douglas was keen to indulge in? If the answers are no, such liberals need radically to examine their casual support for everything Wilde stood for. If it is yes, then why are they not challenging current laws against paedophiles?
The links between Wilde and Douglas (and many others) and the ‘Uranian’ movement (who have been described as a predecessor of the Paedophile Information Exchange), are something about which I intend to write in more detail at a later date. Johann Hari wrote a very good piece in 2009 following apologia for paedophilia by Alan Bennett, Gore Vidal, Stephen Fry and others (Hari, ‘Alan Bennett and the question of innocence’, The Independent, November 27th, 2009).
I hate the hysterical way in which any sorts of sexual offences against children (or adult sexual assaults of whatever degree) are used in order to completely dehumanise the perpetrators, leading to shrieks calling for permanent incarceration and sometimes torture and beyond, from some sections of the press and more than a few politicians (Labour as well as Conservative). I do not hate Savile, or Rolf Harris, or Max Clifford, or others – or Michael Brewer – I do actually pity them; what I hate is a system of values and range of institutions which legitimised what they did because of their power, charisma, artistry, or whatever. For now, I believe that only when people are prepared to view Wilde, Douglas, Gide, Joe Orton (whose diaries are a catalogue of anal rape of young Arab boys, which Alan Bennett conveniently omitted in his screenplay for Prick Up Your Ears), and various others, in a similar light to Savile or Harris, will some progress have been made. Those who idolise these former figures and make light of their activities might as well be consigning their own sons to be raped by them.
John R. Bradley, ‘Just Wilde about the boys. ANDRE AND OSCAR: Gide, Wilde and The Art of Gay Living by Jonathan Fryer, Constable pounds 20’, The Independent, May 25th, 1997.
IN Algiers in 1895, Oscar Wilde procured for Andre Gide a flute- playing Arab boy, primarily in order to amuse himself and his favourite, Lord Alfred Douglas. As Gide climbed into a carriage with the boy, fidgeting and procrastinating, Wilde looked on, triumphant. Gide, in fact, had already experienced his initiation with another Arab lad in the sand dunes of Sousse, Tunisia; but that was a fleeting, fumbling, private affair. The boy had initially marched off in despair at Gide’s seeming inability actually to do anything when push, as it were, came to shove. When Gide met Wilde, he was still pondering the implications.
Before then, the two writers had met only in the Parisian literary circles in which they were both establishing themselves during the 1880s. After Algiers, however, the Irishman became a permanent, looming intellectual presence in the French writer’s mind. Wilde appeared, faintly disguised, as a number of secondary characters in Gide’s early novels; the protagonists are drawn out through their reactions to the Wildean figures. Gide, meanwhile, began to chart his own real- life maturation against his various moral responses to Wilde’s decadent- aesthetic pronouncements.
Jonathan Fryer’s Andre and Oscar reveals previously unexplored similarities between the two. They both had powerful, slightly dotty mothers whose influence on them was decisive. They both came from established families, which hindered, at least in the beginning, the extent to which they could practise their unconventional philosophies. They both chose to marry, despite being homosexual, and both genuinely loved their respective wives, albeit with gay abandon. They both preferred young boys to grown men, when they had the choice – Wilde went in for the tough blond things who strutted their stuff around Piccadilly Circus, Gide for the lithe, charming Arab kids who, then as now, formed little groups around foreigners.
Fryer’s book is fashionably focused on this last area. Perhaps it is fashionable distaste for such matters that compelled him to write that Gide’s “paedophilia” seems “not to have taken on any physical dimension”. This is like saying that Casanova never really acted on his heterosexuality. And it is a little embarrassing to see Gide defended from what he himself considered to be the aspect of his character he should, above all else, be honest about. Fryer also states, somewhat paradoxically, that “nowadays” it would be cautious Gide, and not outrageous Wilde, who would find himself standing in the dock. That is incorrect, too, since Wilde lost his virginity to Robbie Ross when the latter was a year below the current age of consent, and the boys Wilde wined and dined were frequently younger than that – as when he became involved with a 16-year-old who had been smuggled into London from Bruges to be installed in the Albermarle Hotel. According to Oscar Browning, the pederastic Victorian public-school master, “on Saturday, the boy slept with Douglas; on Sunday he slept with Oscar. On Monday he slept with a woman at Douglas’s expense.”
Fryer also writes, as though it was not particularly controversial, of Douglas taking a boy-lover named Ali in Algeria, whom he cruelly whipped after the boy was said to have been sleeping with women. Gide informed his own mother, of all people, that even when that relationship ended, the child was not still in his teens. Ali has been written about before. But Fryer further claims, this time controversially, that Douglas told Gide he was looking forward to seducing Wilde’s nine-year-old son, Cyril, as soon as he got the opportunity. It is not suggested that Wilde raised any objection to this sort of talk; nor does Fryer himself raise any objections. Unlike most of Wilde’s friends, Douglas didn’t have to pretend to be decadent, and most readers will sigh with relief that the relationship between Wilde and Douglas ended, however terrible the circumstances, before little Cyril could face the potential consequences of the latter’s advances.
Indeed, much of the material in Andre and Oscar challenges Wilde’s reputation among liberals as a gay icon. If Wilde and Douglas are seen as gay liberators, do their supporters also approve of the activities of child-sex tourists? Or an age of consent for homosexuality so low that it might as well not exist at all? Or the sort of flirtation with the sons of one’s married lovers Douglas was keen to indulge in? If the answers are no, such liberals need radically to examine their casual support for everything Wilde stood for. If it is yes, then why are they not challenging current laws against paedophiles? Fryer does not grapple with these points.
The more conventional aspects of Gide and Wilde have, of course, already been documented in numerous biographies. Fryer tries to overcome this difficulty by focusing on the mutual fascination that existed between them, and on their mutual friends, in an attempt to offer new perspectives. When Wilde was in prison, Gide bombarded Douglas with letters demanding information, and eventually they met up in Italy. When Wilde later settled in Berneval, Gide made a point of travelling there unannounced to see his old friend.
The book also contains an absorbing and original subtext, considering the experiences of both writers’ wives . And it successfully and intriguingly recreates the vast network of homosexuals in countries like Italy and Algeria, where pederasty was known to flourish – what others have called the seduction of the Orient and the Mediterranean; what these days is referred to, rather less eloquently, as international sex tourism.
The Uranians #1 – the nineteenth/early twentieth century PIE?Posted: May 24, 2014 Filed under: Abuse, PIE, Uranians | Tags: alan stanley, alistair sutherland, Arthur lyon raile, baron corvo, brian reade, edward carpenter, edward perry warren, edwin emmanuel bradford, fr. rolfe, greek love, havelock ellis, j.z. eglinton, john addington symonds, john gambril nicholson, karl heinrich ulrichs, lad's love, lord alfred douglas, love in earnest, michael matthew kaylor, oscar wilde, paedophile information exchange, patrick anderson, philip gillespie bainbrigge, pie, ralph chubb, steven adrian smith, theodor wratislaw, timothy d'arch smith, uranians, warren middleton 8 Comments
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).  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,  and John Addington Symonds (1840-1893), who never missed a chance of bending classical and biblical themes to a homosexually allegorical advantage.  If we exclude Oscar Wilde, the chief exponents of the decadent school were Wilde’s catamite, Lord Alfred Douglas (1870-1945),  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. 
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),  arguably the best poet of them all, friend to his recurrent disadvantage of Fr. Rolfe (‘Baron Corvo’),  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.  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. 
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. 
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.
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)
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!
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).