Forrest Reid (1876-1947)


Life
b. 24 June, 20 Mount Charles, Belfast, youngest of 12 children, of whom 6 survived; son of Robert Reid, a shipping merchant, by his second wife, of a Shopshire upper-class family descended from Katherine Parr; Reid Snr. had to recommence his business but d. in 1881, leaving his widow badly off; the children raised on thin diet; Forrest resentful of his mother, becomes strongly attached to his nurse, Emma Homes of Bootle; ed. Hardy’s Prep. School, 1886, and Belfast Academical Institute, 1888; passed Intermediate Cert., 1891; experienced a period of dejection, resulting in an attempted suicide by laudanum;
 
apprenticed to Musgraves’ tea company, 1893; entrusted with the care of Andrew Musgrave, another apprentice; experienced a happy infatuation with him; issued The Kingdom of Twilight (1904), a novel centred on Willie Trevellyan, poet and lover of the Greek ideal, beginning with his childhood, followed by his marriage the beautiful Hester Urquhart, with whom he has a son Prosper before she leaves him with the boy who later dies of pneumonia after they have spent some time together; sent the novel to Henry James and received kindly letter noting ‘elements of beauty and sincerity that remain with me’; entered Christ’s Church Coll, Cambridge, 1905 [aetat. 30]; grad. in Medieval and Modern Languages, 1908;
 
afterwards regarded Cambridge as ‘rather a blank interlude’ in his life though he met E. M. Forster who encouraged him to write and later visited him in Belfast in 1913; returned to Belfast after graduation, and moved to Ravenhill Rd., and later Fitzwilliam Avenue; produced the novels The Garden God (1905); The Bracknels (1911); Following Darkness (1912), a bildungsroman of Protestant Belfast (later rewritten as Peter Waring); The Gentle Lover (1913); At the Door of the Gate (1915); visited ‘AE’ Russell in Dublin, Dec. 1915; lived inconspicuously in the ensuing years but encouraged Robert Greacen and others incl. Stephen Gilbert, with whom he established a friendship;
 
wrote a critical study of W. B. Yeats (1915, rep. US 1982); met Kenneth Hamilton, a 13-yr. old boy for whom he produces Kenneth’s Magazine of stories, poems, &c. in an exercise book format, 1916; issued The Spring Song (1916); Hamilton enlisted in the Merchant Navy and afterwards settled in Australia; Reid maintained a correspondence with him, gradually decreasing until news of Hamilton’s death reaches him with returned unopened mail; committed himself increasingly to writing out of the consciousness of boyhood; issued A Garden by the Sea (1918), in which a middle-aged man returns to a house he loved in childhood; also and The Pirates of the Spring (1919);
 
took rented rooms on Dublin Road and afterwards moved to 2-bedroom house at 13 Ormiston Crescent, Knock, East Belfast, 1924; issued Pender Among the Residents (1922); won the Norfolk County Croquet Club Challenge Cup, 1922, 1925; was invited to tour Australia on the British team; issued Demophon: a Traveller’s Tale (1922); issued a critical study of Walter de la Mare (1929); issued the trilogy, being the ‘reverse of a sequel’, dealing with the life of Tom Barber at 15, 13, and 11, consisting of Uncle Stephen (1931), originally conceived as ‘My Uncle“s a Magician”;
 
issued The Retreat (1936), taking its title and epigraph from a poem of Henry Vaughan; issued Peter Waring (1937, formerly Following Darkness, 1912); issued Young Tom (1944), in which Tom falls in love with Jame Arthur; also Denis Bracknel (1947), being a revised version of The Bracknels (1911), without the final account of Rusk’s feelings; issued autobiographies, Apostate (1926) and Private Road (1940); some of his manuscripts are held in the Belfast Central Library Irish Collection; described his fiction as ‘an attempt to get back to my mysterious garden’;
 
d. Warrenpoint, 4 Jan. 1947, and bur. Dundonalid Cemetry; Reid is chiefly fêted today as a homosexual writer of marked reticence and a stylist; he was an avid stamp collector; his collection of illustrations, housed in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, was put on display in March 1998; there is a ‘Forrest Reid Collection’ of first editions and studies at Exeter University; num. manuscripts held at Belfast Central Public Library; further materials held at QUB, including letters from Forster, who travelled to Belfast in unveil a plaque at Ormiston Crescent, 1952. NCBE IF OCEL DIB DIW DIL ORM FDA DUB OCIL

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Works
Poetry
  • Greek Authors: Poems from the Greek Anthology, translated by Forrest Reid (London: Faber 1943).
Short fiction
  • A Garden by the Sea (Dublin: Talbot; London: Unwin 1918) [stories & sketches]
Novels
  • The Kingdom of Twilight (London: Unwin 1904);
  • The Garden God: A Tale of Two Boys (London: David Nutt 1905);
  • The Bracknels: A Family Chronicle (London: Edward Arnold 1911), and Do., revised as Denis Bracknel (London: Faber & Faber 1947);
  • Following Darkness (London: Edward Arnold 1912);
  • The Gentle Lover: A Comedy of Middle Age (London: Arnold 1913);
  • At the Door of the Gate (London: Arnold 1915);
  • The Spring Song (London: Arnold 1916);
  • Pirates of the Spring (Dublin: Talbot Press; London: TF Unwin 1919), 356pp. [ded. to R. J. Wright]; Do. [another edn.] (Boston & NY: Houghton Mifflin Co. 1920), 356pp., and Do. [facs. of US edn.] (Scolar Press 1971);
  • Pender among the Residents (London: Collins 1922);
  • Demophon: A Traveller’s Tale (London: Collins 1927);
  • Uncle Stephen (London: Faber & Faber 1931), and rep. edn. (London: Gay Men’s Press 1988);
  • Brian Westby (London: Faber & Faber 1934);
  • The Retreat; or, The Machinations of Henry (London: Faber & Faber 1936) [poem of that title as epigraph], and Do. [rep. edn.], with an introduction by John McRae (London: Gay Men’s Press 1989);
  • Peter Waring [rev. version of Following Darkness] (London: Faber & Faber 1937) [ded. E. M. Foster, ‘now as then’], and Do. [another edn.] (London: Readers’ Union; Faber & Faber 1939], 374pp.;
  • Young Tom, or Very Mixed Company (London: Faber & Faber 1944), 169pp.; Do. [new edn.] (1956), and Do. [rep. edn.] (London: Gay Men’s Press 1992).
Also reprint: The Garden God: A Tale of Two Boys [1905], ed. with a foreword, introduction and notes by Michael Matthew Kaylor (Kansas City: Valancourt Books 2007)
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Autobiography
  • Apostate (London: Constable 1926; Faber & Faber 1947) [see extract];
  • Private Road (London: Faber 1940).
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Criticism
  • W. B. Yeats: A Critical Study (London: Martin Secker 1915);
  • Illustrators of the Sixties (London: Faber & Gwyer 1928);
  • Walter de la Mare: A Critical Study (London: Faber & Faber 1929);
  • Retrospective Adventurers (London: Faber 1941), and Do. [rep. edn.] (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing 1998), 128pp.;
  • Notes and Impressions (Newcastle Co. Down: Mourne Press 1942) [inc. ‘Shakespeare’s Lyric Plays’];
  • The Milk of Paradise: Some Thoughts on Poetry (London: Faber 1946).
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Reprint edns., The Garden God: A Tale of Two Boys ([London:] Brilliance Bks. 1986, 1993); Peter Waring (Belfast, Blackstaff 1976); Uncle Stephen (London: Gay Men’s Press 1988); The Retreat; or, The Machinations of Henry (London: Gay Men’s Press 1988) [0 85448 055 8]; Young Tom; or, Very Mixed Company (London: Gay Men’s Press 11992) [0 7136 3609 2]. See also Brian Taylor, ed. & intro., The Suppressed Dedication and Envoy of ‘The Garden God’ (London: D’Arch Smith [1976]), 6pp.

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Criticism
  • E. M. Forster, Abinger Harvest (London: Arnold 1936);
  • John Boyd [on Reid], in Irish Writing, ed. David Marcus & Terence Smith, No. 4 (April 1948), pp.72-77; George Buchanan, ‘The Novels of Forrest Reid’, Dublin Magazine, XXVII, 1 (Jan.-March 1952), pp.23-32;
  • Russell Burlingham, Forrest Reid: A Portrait and A Study, with an introduction by Walter de la Mare (London: Faber 1953);
  • John Cronin, ‘Ulster's Alarming Novels’, Éire-Ireland, 4, 4 (Winter 1969), pp.27-34 [see extract];
  • J. W. Foster, Forces and Themes in Ulster Fiction (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1974), pp.139-48; 197-211 et passim [see contents];
  • Mary Bryan, Forrest Reid (NY: Twayne 1976);
  • John Boyd & Stephen Gilbert, eds., Threshold, No. 28 [‘Forrest Reid Number’] (1977) [contribs. George Buchanan, James Simmons, John McGahern, et al.];
  • George Buchanan, review of Forrest Reid, Peter Waring, in The Honest Ulsterman, 56 [1976], p.132;
  • Brian Taylor, The Green Avenue: Life and Writings of Forrest Reid, 1875-1947 (Cambridge UP 1980);
  • James Simmons, ‘“The Recipe for all Misfortunes, Courage”: A Study of Three Works by Ulster Protestant Authors [...]’, in Across the Roaring Hill: The Protestant Imagination in Modern Ireland - Essays in Honour of John Hewitt, ed. Gerald Dawe & Edna Longley (Belfast: Blackstaff 1985). pp.79-98, espec. pp.95-98 [see extract];
  • John McRae, ‘Introduction’, The Retreat (London: Gay Men’s Press 1989);
  • Eamonn Hughes, ‘Ulster of the Senses’, in Fortnight 306 (May 1992) [q.p.; on the autobiographies].
  • Klaus-Gunnar Schneider, Impossible Perspective: the Influence of Sexual Politics and Identity on Readings of Forrest Reid’s Fiction (Belfast: QUB 1994);
  • Colin Cruise, ‘Error and Eros: The Fiction of Forrest Reid as a Defence of Homosexuality’ in Sex, Nation and Dissent in Irish Writing, ed. Éibhear Walshe (Cork UP 1997), pp.60-86;
  • Brian Taylor & Paul Goodman, eds., Retrospective Adventures: Forrest Reid, Author and Collector (Aldershot, Ashgate: Scolar Press 1998) [see contents];
  • Colin Cruise, ‘Error & Eros: The Fiction of Forrest Reid’, in Sex, Nation & Dissent, ed. Eibhear Walsh (Cork UP 1997) [q.pp.];
  • Robert Greacen, ‘A Garden by the Sea - Forrest Reid 1875-1947’, in Honest Ulsterman (Spring 1999), pp.87-102;
  • Graham Walker, ‘Belfast, Boys and Books: The Friendship Between Forrest Reid and Knox Cunningham’, in The Irish Review, 35, 1 (Spring 2007), pp.132-43.
 
See also E. M. Forster, Two Cheers for Democracy (London: Arnold 1951) [q.p.]; John Boyd, The Middle of My Journey (Belfast: Blackstaff 1990), p.64f.; and Robert Greacen, Rooted in Ulster (Belfast: Lagan Press 2001), 130pp. Also contemporary references in Irish Book Lover (Vols. 3, 4, 6, 11 & 24).

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Bibliographical details
J. W. Foster, Forces and Themes in Ulster Fiction (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1974), pp.139-48; 197-211 [commentary on Apostate, At the Door of the Gate, The Bracknels, Brian Westby, Denis Bracknel, Following Darkness, The Garden God, The Kingdom of Twilight, Peter Waring, Private Road, The Retreat, Uncle Stephen, and Young Tom].

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Brian Taylor & Paul Goodman, eds., Retrospective Adventures: Forrest Reid, Author and Collector (Aldershot: Ashgate 1998); Contents, Colin Harrison, Foreword; Preface; Chronology; Brian Taylor, Some Themes in the Novels of Forrest Reid; Norman Vance, The Necessity of Forrest Reid; John McGahern, Brian Westby; Angela Thirlwell, Child’s Eye View: the Autobiographies of Forrest Reid; Robin de Beaufort, Reid as a Collector; Anne Harvey, Forrest Reid and Walter de la Mare: a literary friendship; Robert Greacen, Tomorrow Evening about Eight; Paul Goldman, Catalogue; notes on contributors. Publised with support of Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, British Academy, and Esme Mitchell Trust. [See Ashgate brochure March 1998.]

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Commentary
E. M. Forster, ‘Forrest Reid Address’ [address at ded. of plaque at 13 Ormiston Crescent, 10 Oct. 1952, to Lord Mayor], in, John Boyd and Stephen Gilbert, eds., ‘Forrest Reid Issue’, Threshold, Spring 1977, p.4-6 [var. pp.33-36]: ‘He didn’t care for success that is attained by entering cliques and pulling wires. He wanted to write his own sort of books in his own way and to be in Northern Ireland to do it ... His books have a tendency to make people feel better ... I see this ethical tendency as the heritage he received from his Presbyterian forebears although he did not inherit their creed.’

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Janet McNeill, ‘The Regional Writer and His Problems’ (address to P.E.N., rep. in Belfast Telegraph, 8 Dec. 1956, p.4: ‘Forrest Reid had an answer to this difficulty. He used sparse, stripped speech, containing nothing purely colloquial in its origin. / This may in part, but only in part, account for the popularity and the appreciation of his books across the water. / He was one of the rare exceptions. An Ulster writer who, using the materials readiest to his hands and heart, gained a welcome from readers outside Ulster. [...] But it entails a certain restrictive poverty of dialogue.’ (Quoted in John Cronin, ‘“Beasts in the Province”: The Fiction of Janet O’Neill’, in Munira H. Mutran & Laura P. Z. Izarra, eds., Irish Studies in Brazil, Sao Paolo 2005, p135-37.)

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John Cronin, ‘Ulster's Alarming Novels’, in Éire-Ireland, 4, 4 (Winter 1969), writes: ‘Forrest Reid is generally singled out as the greatest of the Ulster novelists; he is certainly a curious and compelling talent. He is, however, regionally colourless. Boyhood, not Belfast, is his special province. [...] More and more Forrest Reid withdrew from the life around him into a fantasy world of boyish innocence which he explored in novel after novel. One recalls the opening sentence of his autobiography, Apostate (1926): “The primary impulse of the artist springs, I fancy from dis-content, and his art is a kind of crying for Elysium”.’ (Cronin, p.32.)

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J. W. Foster, Forces and Themes in Ulster Fiction (Dublin; Gill & Macmillan 1974): ‘This class, of which Reid’s family was a declining example, tried to align its living standards with those of the English upper class and the Irish Protestant Ascendancy, and dreamed in the way of any nouveau riche, of gentility, culture and leisure, though in reality it spent its days in dull commerce and pious worship.’ (p.208.)

Mary Bryan, Forrest Reid (Boston Twayne 1976), notes the fusion of ‘the Celtic realisation of the unseen world near at hand and the Greek belief in inevitable fate.’ (p.35.)

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James Simmons, ‘Forrest Reid on Yeats’ in Threshold, 28 [ ‘Forrest Reid Issue’], ed John Boyd and Stephen Gilbert (Spring 1977), pp.60-67: [‘I first came across Forrest Reid’s work in my teens in Derry when a girl friend lent me a battered Penguin copy of Peter Waring. Over the years I have stumbled across the rest, from Apostate (my favourite) to his book on Yeats. The excellence of the book is perhaps the biggest surprise of all. I have never read a better critical study.’ (p.60.)

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James Simmons, ‘“The Recipe for all Misfortunes, Courage”: A Study of Three Works by Ulster Protestant Authors: Apostate by Forrest Reid, Castle Corner by Joyce Cary and December Bride by Sam Hanna Bell’, in Across the Roaring Hill: The Protestant Imagination in Modern Ireland - Essays in Honour of John Hewitt, ed. Gerald Dawe & Edna Longley (Belfast: Blackstaff 1985). pp.79-98 - quotes the account of Emma in Apostate and remarks: ‘[...] There is a great deal more of this wisdom, cogently stated, and the [96] whole book serves to illuminate the natural hunger of the boy for such qualities of love and justice, and what life is like without them. In all three of these books there are key characters, apparently rigid Protestants, whose faith gives them authority; but whose practice bears witness to something deeper than their creed, and more or less against the popular notion of what such a creed represents. / Forrest Reid’s life and work represent an attempt to offer an alternative vision to bourgeois Protestantism, something Grecian and mystical; but it is never embodied with more power than in his tribute to his Protestant nanny’s natural kindness. The best he can say for any of his clergymen is that the fanatic Mr Farrington (in Apostate) had intensity: “one might have confessed a crime to him and not been received with the platitudes of outraged respectability”’. (p.97; see full text in RICORSO Library, “Irish Critical Classics”, attached.)

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George Buchanan, ‘The Autobiographies of Forrest Reid’, in Threshold, 28 [ ‘Forrest Reid Issue’], ed John Boyd and Stephen Gilbert (Spring 1977), pp.86-91: ‘If estimation of an autobiography depends on the acuity or candour or justice of an author’s interpretation of his unique experience, Forrest Reid’s attempts cannot in such respects be placed high. (there literary merit is another matter). A sanctification of privacy is a species of obscurantism and hardly as admirable as those who glorify it sometimes suppose. did, or did not, Forrest Reid, really wish to know himself or come to precise terms with his impulses? The moeurs of the period were against frankness. Even the enlightened Henry James went into a huff when Forrest Reid’s innocuous story The Garden God was dedicated to him’ (p.86); ‘what was the essence of the thing pursued? Always rapture’ (p.90).

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John McRae, Introduction to The Retreat (London; GMP 1989): ‘[his] search for an ideal companion, the constant reference o classical (especially Greek) literature and philosophy, the search for harmony with nature and, perhaps alove al, the passionate belief in a dream-world.’ (p.1); ‘His writing is the bringing to perfection of the last moments of innocence in aa fallen world where the dream must of necessity, become more than the reality’(p.2); ‘Mr Reid ... has somehow kept his memory of boyhood so alive in himself that he writes almost with the feeling of a contemporary’ (ibid., p.3.)

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Eamonn Hughes, ‘Ulster of the Senses’, an essay on Reid’s autobiographies, in Fortnight 306 (May 1992): ‘[...] noted for their reticence and evasiveness ... Apostate finishes on a moment ... which has been described by George Buchanan as one of the finest moments of embarrassment in modern literature ... at the point at which Reid’s identity, most importantly but not exclusively, his sexual identity, is about to be revealed to another person ... Apostate’s final reticence not a matter of incapacity but of choice ... he will describe his dream world for the reader but lacks interest in the public, adult world in and by which one’s identity is usually formed ... we are therefore shown his youthful mental world and his adult public existence but are given no access to the personal life which bridges the two. [Hughes quotes without naming Buchanan’s commentary and remarks further: ] Given his paedophilia, it might be more appropriate to say that Reid’s interest was in an ‘avuncularchy’ ... Affection will not be sustained through time by loyalty; time is the realm of betrayal. Ernest Boyd referred to him in 1922 as ‘probably the only articulate Irishman in Ireland who is unaware of Irish politics.’ His device of implicitly using Ulster landscape ... and yet dehistoricising it as the setting for his mythical world is, therefore, much like the unionist myth of nurture from the land without guilt’ (pp.10-11; end.)

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Klaus-Gunnar Schneider, Impossible Perspective: the Influence of Sexual Politics and Identity on Readings of Forrest Reid’s Fiction (Belfast: QUB 1994), concerned to examine ‘theories of power developed in modern cultural theory which are more directly based upon Michel Foucault’s work and his idea of the omnipresence of power (Foucault, 1990, 92-100)’ have identified ‘how a dominant ideology will give certain rein to alternative discourses, ultimately appropriateing their vitality and containing their oppositional forces’ (Waye 795). It is the concern of the first part of my thesis to demonstrate how a process of cultural marginalisation of Forrest Reid’s novels was constituted through the way in which they were critically recognised by the institutions of literary criticism.’ (p.3.)

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Robert Greacen [who had been deeply impressed by Reid’s Apostate] '... but the novels, unlike Apostate, disappointed me. They seemed, for all their lyrical charm and their fastidious sentence construction, to be too limited. ... outside the magic years of adolescence, Forrest Reid seemed to be at a loss. His adults did not ring true. At the time I sensed this but did not know why, for homosexuality was something I knew nothing about, not even the word itself. [10-12]; Greacen quotes Reid: ‘Certain kind of writer finds his motivation in discontent, so that, as Reid puts it, “his art is a kind of crying for Elysium”.’ Further, Greacen visited Reid by bicycle, and recorded his detestation of politicians as being ‘loud people, vulgar, often insincere’; quoted by Fred Johnston reviewing Even Without Irene [new edn.], in Books Ireland Sept. 1995, p.201.)

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Richard Mills (UUC MPhil, draft, 1995), writes: ‘A summary of the archetypal Forrester Reid novel of the developing self runs somewhat as follows, a boy reaching adolescence in a lower-middle-class family in Protestant Ulster has had a particularly narrow childhood.He feels estranged from their narrow evangelical religioin. He delights in nature, especially in landscape and animals .... Dreams assuage his loneliness most of all for in them he meets hisplaymate, a boy of his own age. Sometimes the real world will nearly approximate to this dream world, the dream -companion will come to live. The idyll that then ensues is temporary for the process of growing up is relentless. Inevitabl maturity means entering the dull world of work, the wretchedness of marriage, alienation from joy. The Reidian Bildungsroman is suffused with a terrified nostalgia, each page a record of youth’s lovely moment and a step closer to its final doom.’

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Quotations
The Kingdom of Twilight (1904), ‘We are in the twilight of our world … The spirit of sunlight no long, as in the golden days of Athens, shines through our work, our art, our life.’); (Rusk, in The Bracknels, 1911), ‘What then was the relation of this naked pagan boy, with body bared to the whiteness of the moon, to the young Presbyterian who sat Sunday by Sunday in his father’s pew?’ p.161); ‘He had a dim sense of something evil - and strange, though indefinite - floating in the air - a horror of a kind of spiritual blight, which he hoped to shake from him when he left the house behind’ (p.276.)

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The Gentle Lover (1913), ‘Youth - youth - everything was in that? It was the unspoiled, the untried! it was romance! It was the dazzling glittering image that beckoned and called irresistibly. It awakened strange melodies that sang in a low passionate undertone - coming from far away, out of the past, out of the future. It blew on dying fires and fanned their ashes to flame. It filled the day with brightness, and the night with dreams.’ (pp.50-510); ‘We must be very careful in our dealings with imaginative little boys. For them quite possibly and certainly for Blake, what we call reality may not be reality at all.’ (n.p.); (Young Tom) ‘He [James Arthur] had simply emerged from his soiled and much-patched clothing like a butterfly form a chrysalis, and the contrast between his fair hair and the golden brown of his body and limbs appeared to the smaller boy as attractive as anything could be. In fact James Arthur, merely by divesting himself of his clothes, had instantly become part of the natural scene, like the grass and the trees and the river and the sky, and the dragonfly asleep ion his water-lily. (GMP Edn., p.33.) (The Milk of Paradise - Some Thoughts no Poetry, 1946). [All cited in Richard Mills, UUC DPhil 1997.]

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Apostate (1926), ‘The primary impulse of the artist springs, I fancy, from discontent, and his art is a kind of crying for Elysium. In this single respect, perhaps, there is no difference between good and bad art. For in the most clumsy and bungled work (if it has been born from desire for beauty) we should doubtles find, if we could but pierce through the dead husk of it to the hidden conception, that same divine home sickness, tha same longing for an Eden form which each one of us is exiled. Strangely different these paradisian visions. For me it may bt the island of the blest “not shaken by winds, not every wet with rain … where the clear air spreads without a cloud”, for you the jewelled splendour of the New Jerusalem. Only in no case, I thnk, is it our own free creation. It is a country whose image was stamped upon our soul before we opened our eyes on earth, and all our life is little more than a trying to get back there, our art than a mapping of its mountains and streams.’ (p.3.)

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W. B. Yeats (1948), ‘[Yeats’s poetry] has something in it of Platonism; his poetry is a setting free of the soul by means of mortal changing things that it may gaze uon immortal and unchanging things. That is exactly what the Platonic Socrates sought to do by dialectic, and what he does do when poetry has not been overshadowed by dialectic. Both ancient philosopher and modern poet throw their net among the stars, and capture a strange and wandering loveliness that will always seem unearthly and illusive to those who, consciously or unconsciously, have accepted materialism, an to those upon whose souls the practical cares of life have closed down like a coffin lid.’ (p.60). Further, of The Secret Rose (rev. 1905 Edn.): ‘It is difficult to see what they are supposed to gain by being decked out in the curiously monotonous, facile and charmless dialect.’ (viz., the Kiltartanese of the Yeats-Gregory revision; quoted in G. J. Watson, W. B. Yeats: Short Fiction, Penguin 1995, p.xiv; ref. to W. H. O'Donnell, A Guide to the Prose of W. B. Yeats, Ann Arbor 1983).

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Walter de la Mare: ‘it is when, in order to be true to his own nature, in order to be himself, he is obliged to work against the grain - against the grain of humanity. It is then there is something wrong; and I have always been like that.’ (p.90; cited Richard Mills, UUC DPhil, 1997.)

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References
Stephen Brown, Ireland in Fiction (Dublin: Maunsel 1919), cites The Kingdom of Twilight (T. Fisher Unwin First Novel library 1904); The Garden God (1905), The Spring Song; The Gentle Lover (1913); and a critical study of Yeats; and lists The Bracknels (1911), a harsh father, wilful elder son, and morbid dreamy younger, ‘the victim of delusions, engaging in strange pagan worship’[Brown]; Following Darkness (Arnold 1912), soul study in form of autobiography; At the Door of the Gate (Arnold 1915), unfolding of a young man’s abnormal, morbid mind; A Garden by the Sea (Talbot 1918), 12 stories and sketches; all the foregoing noted for style. IF2 adds Pirates of the Spring (Talbot 1919), adolescent schoolboys; Pender Among the Residents (Collins 1922), Ballycastle Protestants - dull people all - and an eerie experience; Uncle Stephen (Faber 1931), opening with the death of Tom’s father, and ending with Tom and Uncle Stephen setting out on travels; Brian Westby (Faber 1934), a middle-aged author meets his son of a previous marriage and a relationship consisting mostly in talk ensues; The Retreat (Faber 1936), summer in the life of Tom Barber, sensitive and introvert; Peter Waring (1937), autobiographical form, ‘religious difficulties and doubts ... harmless adolescent loves’[Brown - but see FDA et. al.]; Private Road (Faber), ‘I never believed in any formal religion’[author], and long interview with AE; Young Tom (Faber 1944), small boy and his family world, the first [sic] of a trilogy about Tom; Denis Bracknel (Faber 1947), rev. version of The Bracknels, with an overbearing father, a mild-mannered wife, and sons sensitive and brutal by turns, as well as some daughters, one in love with the tutor Rusk.

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Frank Ormsby, ed., Northern Windows, an anthology of Ulster autobiography (Blackstaff 1987), incls. extract from Apostate (1926 ed.), here pp.31-45.

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Robert Hogan, ed., Dictionary of Irish Literature (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1979), identifies him as a friend and influence for Stephen Gilbert [263]; as a contributor to The Irish Review (1911-15) ed. Thomas MacDonagh, et al. [308]; as commenting on Seamus O’Kelly that ‘the effect of his finest stories is infinitely richer than the sum of their recorded happenings’ in Retrospective Adventures (1942) [533]. The biographical entry makes much of his father’s non-conformist traditions both in their influence and in the reaction they inspired; and quotes the opening of Apostate (1926), ‘The primary impulse of the artist springs, I fancy, from discontent, and his art is a kind of crying for Elysium’ [as infra]; also from Private Road (1940), I could get along swimmingly until I reached my King Charles’s head - the point where a boy becomes a man. There something seemed to happen, my inspiration was cut off, my interest flagged, so all became a labour, and not a labour of love.’ Incurred the displeasure of Henry James, to whom he dedicated The Garden God (1905), the story of a love between two boys, a rift described in Private Road. At the Door of the Gate (1945) describes squalor of working-class Belfast. The Tom Barber trilogy: Uncle Stephen (1931); The Retreat (1936), and Young Tom (1944), the latter winning the James Tait Mem. Prize. DIL adds to common bibliography, The Milk of Paradise, Some Thoughts on Poetry (Faber 1946), and confirms NTRY Burlingham (1953).

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Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 2; selects from Peter Waring (1937), chaps. 31-36 [1088-93]; 1218-19, BIOG, b. Belfast, of protestant mercantile family with mixed fortunes in shipping; apprenticed to tea trade; ed. Cambridge, encouraged by E. M. Foster; returned to Belfast and lived inconspicuously. REMS, Peter Waring, radical revision of Following Darkness (1912), Bildungsroman of protestant experience in Belfast, compared to Joyce’s Portrait; Peter unhappy with his unsympathetic parent, a cold schoolmaster in Newcastle, Co. Down, but happier with his dog Remus and when visiting motherly Mrs Carroll in big house Derryvaghy; stays during school term with relations the McAllisters, and reacts against his course cousin George. [1088-93]. Also FDA3 480, 937.

Library of Herbert Bell, Belfast, holds The Bracknels (London 1911); Pirates of the Spring (London 1919); Pender Among The Residents (London 1922); Apostate (London MCMXXVI [1926]); Demophon (London MCMXXVII [1928]).Retrospective Adventures (London 1941); Denis Bracknel (London 1947); Private Road (London MCMXL [1940]); Notes and Impressions (Newcastle MCMXLII [1942]); Milk of Paradise (London MCMXLVI [1946]).

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Belfast Public Library holds At the Door of the Gate (1915); The Bracknels [sic] (1911); Brian Westby (1934); Demophon (1927); Denis Bracknel (1947); Following Darkness, autobiography of Peter Waring (1912, 1924); A Garden by the Sea (1918); The Garden God (1905); The Gentle Lover (1913); Illustrators of the Sixties [1928]; The Kingdom of Twilight (1904, 1922); Milk of Paradise (1946); Notes and Impressions (1942); Peter Waring (1937); Pirates of the Spring (1919); Poems from the Greek Anthology (1943); Private Road (1940); The Retreat (1953); Retrospective Adventures (1941); The Spring Song (1916); Uncle Stephen (1931); Walter de la Mare (1929); W. B. Yeats (1915); Young Tom (1950).

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Books in Print (1994), The Garden God, A Tale of Two Boys (London: David Nutt 1905; Brilliance Bks. 1986, 1993); Following Darkness (London: Arnold 1912), revised as Peter Waring (London: Faber 1937; Belfast, Blackstaff 1976); Uncle Stephen (London: Faber 1931; Gay Men’s Press 1988; The Retreat; or The Machinations of Henry (London: Faber 1936; Gay Men’s Press 1988); Young Tom; or, Very Mixed Company (London: Faber 1944; Gay Men’s Press 1992).

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Notes
The Kingdom of Twilight (1904) centres on Willie Trevellyan, a poet and lover of the Greek ideal, and beginning in his own childhood, followed by his marriage the beautiful Hester Urquhart, with whom he has a son Prosper before she leaves him with the boy - who later dies of pneumonia after they have spent some time together.

The Garden God (1905) concerns the Platonic friendship of two boys, Graham Iddlesleigh and Harold Brocklehurst, in which Harold is tragically killed in a horse-accident, leaving Graham to grow old, remembering.

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The Bracknels (1911) concerns a sensitive young man for whom the doctor recommends the company of a Cabridge tutor, Rusk (who is the narrator), and whose father dies after a confrontation in which the son threatens to blackmail him because of the favoritism he has shown towards John Brooke, another young man working for the family firm though actually the elder Bracknel’s illegitimate son; all resulting in the suicide of Denis Bracknel with an apprehension of futility and evil.

Following Darkness (1912) is the story of Peter Waring’s first love, set in Newcastle, Co. Down, and in Belfast where the boy is sent to school, staying with his aunts, where he quarrels with his boorish cousin George, though forming a friendship at a school with Owen Gill, who visits him on his return to Newcastle, where he also meets the ‘cruel’ Katherine Dale, with whom he falls unrequitedly in love. Later rewritten as Peter Waring (1937).

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The Gentle Lover (1913) is a fictionalised account of his own travels in Beglium, France and Italy,and centred on Benedict Allingham, an expatriate Irish bachelor who has lived in American for thirty years, and and has ambitions of being a painter, and who loses Sylvie Grimshaw to the supercilious clergyman Mr. Halvard.

At the Door of the Gate (1915) centres on Richard Seawright, ‘a youthful Greek divinity’ in a family of ne’er-do-wells at Blenheim Gardens in Belfast, who is forced to work at a tead-merchats, and forms a relationship with Rose Jackson, whom he is forced to marry, ending in her suicide after the birth of a son and the end of the marriage, after which the son dies of pneumonia due to his paternal uncle Martin’s carelessness, leading to a fight in which Richard pushes his brother over a cliff to his death.

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The Spring Song (1916) deals with Griffin (‘Grif’) Weston, a sensitive English visitor in Ballinderry, lured nto the woods by a flute-playing Mr. Bradley, who persuades him that a dead child is trying to contact him from beyond the grave, causing the boy to experience an illness, from which he recovers, however; Hamilton joins merchant Navy and settled in Australia; maintains correspondence, gradually decreasing until news of his death reaches Reid with returned unopened mail; committed himself increasingly to writing out of the consciousness of boyhood.

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The Pirates of the Spring (1919), originally written as “Beach Traill”, deals with the adolescent friendship of Traill, Evan Hayes, Miles Oulton, and Palmer Dorset, all attending Osborne School, based on the ‘Inst.’, and narrating the attempts to prevent Mr. Oulton’s marriage to Mrs.Traill, and school-matters relating to the bully Cantillon, and includes a helpful Jesuit Fr O’Brien who advises the boys, documenting some anti-Catholic attitudes. The novel has an unascribed epigraph: ‘But as the boy, the pirate of the spring, / From the green [?dawn] a living linnet takes / Our natural verse recapture.’

Pender Among the Residents (1922) is a love-story involving ghostly revenants and some letters in which an illicit love-affair is revealed and a murder.

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James Joyce: Joyce held a copy of Following Darkness (London: Edward Arnold 1912), stamped “J.J.”, in his Trieste Library. (See Richard Ellmann, The Consciousness of James Joyce, Faber, p.125 [Appendix].

Publisher’s list appended to The Wayward Man (1927), incls. notice of Demophon: ‘This is a little odyssey of ancient Greece, a tale of enchanted seas and islands, whre all the world was young; a romance of wonder and adventure, of Gods and men and beasts, of the strange and familiar.’

 

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