Early Uranians: Cory, Dolben, Hopkins

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This is from Stephen Wayne Foster:

The earliest British Uranian was the teacher and poet William Johnson Cory (1823-92), who taught at Eton from 1845 to 1872 (d'Arch Smith, 4-11; Reade, 10-1; Hyde, 116-17; Kaylor, conclusion). He was one of the best and most influential teachers, and had numerous important students, some (but not all) of whom were pederasts. Cory made pederasty the very basis of his teaching approach, and this eventually caused him to be asked to resign. He wrote a book of verse titled "Ionica" (1858), which provoked John Addington Symonds, then 18 or 19, to write him. Cory responded with "a long and passionate defense of pederasty" (Hyde, from Grosskurth's biography of Symonds, 1964, 47), a valuable document presumably destroyed somewhere along the way. There was a student at Eton, but apparently not one of Cory's, who nevertheless attracted Cory, this being Digby Mackworth Dolben (1848-67), who drowned at 19. He was in love with a boy named Archie Manning (Reade, 10-1). Dolben wrote some poetry, but this was not published until 1911, edited by Robert Bridges, a cousin who was hostile to pederasty. Dolben also, on his 17th birthday, attracted the attention of Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-89), the great poet, with whom he had a chaste friendship. Hopkins (Reade, 11-3; Kaylor, chapers 1-3; not in d'Arch Smith) was tutored at Oxford by Walter Pater. He, like Symonds, was distressed by his sexual feelings, but remained chaste lifelong, unlike Symonds. He became a Jesuit priest and died in Ireland. His chief Uranian poems were "Epithalamion" and "The Bugler's First Communion" (Reade, 153, 223; Kaylor, 161ff, 182ff). Kaylor touts him as a major Uranian, but Brian Reade does no such thing, and d'Arch Smith ignores him. Let us get back to Cory and his students. His favorite was Charles Wood, Lord Halifax (1839-1934), to whom his poems were dedicated, but who seems to have been oblivious to the nature of Cory's feelings, and who wasn't gay. Capt. Algernon Drummond, a soldier, one of his students, collaborated with Cory for the "Eton Boating Song" (words by Cory, music by Drummond). Other students of Cory included at least four pederasts. First and foremost was Oscar Browning (1837-1923), who also taught at Eton and was dismissed because of his relationship with George Curzon, later Viceroy of India (Hyde, 118-20). Howard Overing Sturgis (1855-1920) was the author of "Tim" (1891), a sentimental novel about a boy's love for another boy (see Reade). Reginald Balliol Brett, Viscount Esher (1852-1930), of whom Rowse makes much of in "Homosexuals in History" (1977), although the details of his sex life seem missing in action, wrote a book of Uranian verse titled "Foam." Archibald Primrose, Lord Rosebery (1847-1929), a Prime Minister, had an affair with a fellow Scot, Viscount Drumlanrig, the brother of Lord Alfred Douglas. Another Scot who became Prime Minister was Lord Arthur Balfour (1848-1930), who may have been gay. Other students of Cory included Henry Scott Holland (1847-1918), Francis Eliot, W. O. Burrows and Lord Chichester, but little is known of them and they need not have been gay. Cory and Oscar Browning were the two most important examples of pederastic teachers, not merely at Eton, but in Victorian England in general, and both ran afoul of the moral code (1872, 1875). The fact that Dolben attracted both Cory and Hopkins, and was himself gay, makes him central to the early Uranians in spite of his brief life. The importance of Hopkins as a Uranian is subject to debate. The question of whether these men "were" gay or "became" gay due to the widespread situational homosexuality at Eton and elsewhere remains to be seen. Symonds certainly was gay, being repulsed by the sexual activity among the students at Harrow and taking no part in it, not to mention ratting on the Headmaster.

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