Yes, clearly Eliot scholars have investigated this and will. My reason
for not desiring to is because for me it distracts from discussion of the
----- Original Message -----
From: Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wednesday, January 09, 2002 8:36 AM
Subject: Re: TSE gay? Should this be discussed?
> In a few words, "Why not, since it has been a topic for serious scholars
> a very long time, including James Miller, Wayne Koestenbaum, Collen
> Lamos, and Tim Dean?" Or, more important, why should any topic treated
> seriously be excluded from discussion and debate?
> Date sent: Wed, 9 Jan 2002 00:07:15 -0800
> Send reply to: [log in to unmask]
> From: "Ron Houssaye" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Subject: Re: TSE gay? Should this be discussed?
> Ah, in a word, no.
> Ron Houssaye
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Tuesday, January 08, 2002 11:18 PM
> Subject: TSE gay? Should this be discussed?
> > Rick Seddon wrote (1/8/2002):
> > > Steve and Rick P are both convinced that TSE
> > > was gay (just joking, just joking).
> > Well, Rick P has already spoken for himself, so let me say that, yes,
> > I
> > think that TSE was gay, or had gay desires, whether or not he acted on
> > Why does this matter?? It only matters if you conclude, as I have
> > that a powerful force behind TSE's poetry is his guilt over these
> > desires
> > how God would judge a man with such desires.
> > You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. Carole
> > the author of "PAINTED SHADOW: A LIFE OF VIVIENNE ELIOT" also clearly
> > indicates (repeatedly) in her book that she thinks TSE was gay, although
> > presents scant direct evidence. For the curious, here's a few excerpts
> > "Painted Shadow" that will show you what I mean. The excerpts are
> > scanned
> > so please forgive any typos from the scanning process.
> > And, yes, the 600 page book is centered on **Vivienne**, despite the
> > impression these excerpts may give that the book is only about TSE's
> > sex life".
> > -- Steve --
> > ==================================
> > >From "Painted Shadow":
> > P211
> > In his twenties, it seemed, Eliot struggled with contradictory urges, to
> > confess and yet to repress his homosexual feelings: it was a kind of
> > but one which explains to some extent the obscurity of poetry in which
> > so many secrets demanded concealment.
> > Among those secrets was his grief for Jean Verdenal...
> > P 348
> > The flat Tom rented in early 1923 was to be the hub of his secret life,
> > a place where he could throw off conventionality. Burleigh Mansions, a
> > block
> > portered flats on Charing Cross Road, looked out on St Martin's Lane,
> > and
> > favoured by actors. Ellen Terry and Donald Wolfit both at times lived
> > Eliot rented number 38, thus securing for himself a pied a terre in the
> > of theatreland. At Burleigh Mansions he underwent a metamorphosis: here
> > he was no longer 'Mr. Eliot', banker and dutiful husband, but 'Captain
> > hero of the Colombo verses, captain of his crew. Among that crew was in
> > probability Leonide Massine, who danced the French sailor in Les
> > Matelots,
> > 'light-hearted romp' which he choreographed for Diaghilev after
> > divorcing
> > wife Vera in 1924 and returning to the bosom of the Ballets Russes and a
> > bed-sitting room in Bloomsbury .
> > Osbert Sitwell noticed, when he visited Eliot in the 'bizarre'
> > of the Charing Cross Road flat, that 'Visitors on arrival had to enquire
> > the porter's lodge for "The Captain", which somehow invested the whole
> > establishment with a nautical - for I cannot say why, I took the title
> > to
> > naval rather than military -a gay, a gallant feeling.'
> > The room in which Osbert and Sacheverell dined was high up at the back
> > the block, looking down on the revolving glass ball lantern of the
> > music hall, where the Russian ballet performed. Osbert sat next to Tom
> > on
> > side, Sachie on the other:
> > "Noticing how tired my host looked, I regarded him more closely, and was
> > amazed to notice on his cheeks a dusting of green powder -pale but
> > green, the colour of a forced lily-of-the-valley. I was all the more
> > at this discovery, because any deliberate dramatisation of his
> > appearance
> > so plainly out of keeping with his character, and with his desire never
> > to call attention to himself, that I was hardly willing, any more than
> > if I
> > seen a ghost, to credit the evidence of my senses."
> > Osbert was almost ready to disbelieve what he had seen, but he went to
> > tea with Virginia Woolf a few days later. 'She asked me, rather
> > pointedly, if
> > had seen Tom lately, and when I said "Yes" asked me - because she too
> > was anxious for someone to confirm or rebut what she thought she had
> > seen -whether I had observed the green powder on his face -so there was
> > corroboration'
> > p359
> > Illness was not, however, the only cause of Eliot's spiralling costs
> > that summer. He had begun a relationship with a young man which was also
> > prove expensive, both to his purse and his temper . In May 1923 he
> > invited the 'foreign young gentleman', to whom Vivien referred in an
> > undated
> > to Mary, to stay at 2 Milestone Cottages, Old Fishbourne ('During May!J.
> > to stay .') Ostensibly the young man had come to lend a hand during
> > illness, but there is little doubt that he was, in fact, romantically
> > and sexually involved with Tom. The youth's name was Jack and he was
> > German, recalled Vivien, who recorded the eventful summer in the
> > 'stunning sort of instant doggerel' with which, remembered Maurice, she
> > had been accustomed
> > amuse her family at Anglesey.
> > p362
> > It would appear that Jack had successors. The Ron. Philip Ritchie,
> > eldest
> > of Lord Ritchie of Dundee, a beautiful and gay young man to whom Lytton
> > Strachey was attracted, stayed on occasions at Burleigh Mansions with
> > so Frank Morley, a Faber director, admitted to playwright Michael
> > in 1923 Ritchie was an Oxford undergraduate, but he was not the
> > Oxford youth' noticed by Virginia on 17 December, for Ritchie was a
> > friend
> > the Woolfs and Roger Fry and would have been recognised. The homosexual
> > novelist C. H. B. Kitchin was also reputed to be a guest of 'Captain
> > Eliot's', as was Roger Senhouse, the art critic.
> > p 365
> > Eliot's conscience tormented him. He could not repress the knowledge
> > that
> > had rejected Vivien within weeks of his marriage to her, and that
> > Vivien's affair with Russell, rather than being, in Ronald Schuchard's
> > words, a vicious sexual betrayal of Eliot, had in fact been one in which
> > he had knowingly colluded in order to further his career, relieve
> > himself of conjugal responsibilities, and to gain financial advantage.
> > Nor could
> > deny the strength of his own homosexual desires, which were leading him
> > a web of deceit. . . .Writing in the first person, Eliot boldly exhorts
> > reader to buggery, 'again and again and again'.
> > Proclaim to the morning, he cries, that 'a r s e spells arse'.
> > Eliot's obscene verse testifies to the violence of his feelings, and
> > it
> > hard to believe that they were never acted upon. But, even if the
> > strength
> > the poet's will, inhibition, or fear of exposure ensured that his
> > desires remained in the realm of sexual fantasy, they affected both his
> > and
> > lives powerfully. Eliot's secrets shaped his biography and his poetry.
> > And the balance of probability seems to lie with the argument that
> > Eliot, like Lytton Strachey and other members of the Bloomsbury Group,
> > had a physical relationship with the young men like Jack or Ritchie with
> > whom he
> > Why should he have felt such a degree of shame and self-loathing had he
> > sinned -in his own eyes at least? Eliot's grinding sense of his own
> > sexual sinfulness overwhelmed him, a legacy of his puritanical
> > upbringing and the prejudices of the period in which he lived. It was
> > Vivien's misfortune
> > not only did her very femininity repel him, simply looking at her
> > reminded Eliot of the Russell affair, and of her immorality which he
> > later roundly condemned. In his eyes Vivien was the harlot who
> > bewitches, emblematic of Eliot's own immorality and sexual betrayal.
> > Vivien now represented for her husband his shadow side, the dark anima
> > behind Eliot's urbane exterior of which he speaks in The Hollow Men
> > (1925): 'Between the desire And the
> > ..Between the essence And the descent Falls the Shadow.'
> > p449
> > on 29 November 1939, Eliot confessed to his companion John Hayward that
> > he had never loved a woman or enjoyed sexual intercourse with her: 'I
> > never
> > with a woman I liked, loved, or even felt any strong physical attraction
> > P472
> > Eliot grew nervous of blackmail; such was his reputation that the writer
> > W. F. Tomlin felt it necessary to state that his friendship with the
> > poet
> > 'devoid of sexual feeling ...' despite the 'persistent insinuations that
> > Eliot, owing to his friendship with Jean Verdenal and perhaps with
> > others, was either homosexual or, as one fellow-poet remarked,
> > 'suppressed homosexuality'.
> > p495
> > Eventually it was Virginia who indirectly solved Eliot's accommodation
> > problem - by reintroducing him to a fellow Hogarth Press author, the
> > homosexual novelist C. H. B. Kitchen, who took pity on the poet and
> > him 'sanctuary' in his flat in Great Ormond Street. At the end of the
> > year Eliot moved in with Clifford, and his two gay flatmates.
> > Eliot experienced his time in Great Ormond Street as liberation. It
> > was
> > all-male establishment: the poet's flatmates were his old friend,
> > novelist Clifford Kitchin, Richard Jennings, a gay book collector, and
> > Ken Ritchie, later Chairman of the Stock Exchange, who had a policeman
> > lover. It was, recalls the novelist Francis King, 'a gay household', in
> > which Eliot felt free to venture out in the evenings, wearing 'a bit of
> > slap'. 'Clifford
> > me how Eliot went out rouged and lipsticked, with eye shadow,' says
> > King. 'Clifford was absolutely convinced he was carrying on a gay life
> > then.'
> > three men liked to bring back 'trade' to the flat; and why, asked
> > would Eliot choose to lodge in such a house were he not gay? However,
> > it
> > still a period in which discretion was all-important for a man like
> > Eliot, who depended on his income from his work, and could not afford
> > the aristocratic disdain shown by Osbert Sitwell, who was living openly
> > with David Horner. Eliot kept his own counsel, and did not discuss his
> > nightly jaunts with Kitchin. But Stephen Spender, who had met Eliot in
> > 1928 and
> > been published by Faber, was aware that Eliot wore cosmetics; in May
> > 1996 Spender's widow Natasha confirmed the truth of the Sitwells'
> > stories of Eliot's use of 'pale green powder' to Alec Guinness, who
> > played the psychiatrist Sir Henry Harcourt-Reilly in The Cocktail Party.
> > P523
> > Eliot wove into 'Little Gidding' the ideals of Ferrar and Herbert which
> > he associated with St John of the Cross's detachment from earthly
> > desire, arguing for 'love beyond desire', and borrowing, too, the words
> > of Julian
> > Norwich, one of the fourteenth-century mystics who followed the via
> > 'Sin is Behovely, but/ All shall be well, and/ All manner of things
> > shall
> > well.'
> > But was the pull of sensuality banished as completely as Eliot was
> > pretending? It seems not. The period immediately after his separation
> > from Vivienne was a time in which homosexuality seems to have been at
> > the forefront of his mind. Eliot's correspondence with Ezra Pound in
> > 1934 is
> > of obscene jokes about bestiality, elephants in chastity belts, and
> > plan to send him an elephant's vagina under the 'snotty nose' of the
> > authorities; it was a time in which Tom was open about his sexual
> > prowess
> > Ezra. 'About COARSENESS I don't want to boast,' he wrote on 3 January
> > so he wouldn't tell Ezra what one sea-captain had said about Eliot to
> > another: that apart from old Ike Carver of Mosquito Cove -and 'He was
> > the
> > who fucked the whole of Marshall's Island in one night, at the age of
> > 70',
> > it was only fair to except a man like that- Tom was unbeatable in bed.
> > The obscene verse he included in this letter dwells, with violent and
> > tedious repetition, upon the pleasures of buggery:
> > 'Grasp hard the bastards by the short hair.
> > Not once, or twice, shalt thou bugger 'em, in our
> > rough island story ,
> > But again and again and again and again, leaving
> > their arseholes all glory.'
> > Compulsively he continues:
> > 'And when I say, again and again, I mean repeatedly, I
> > mean continually, I mean in fact many times.'
> > The orgiastic hero of Eliot's verse, 'Lord of a hundred battles', is
> > proud
> > his '1000 hard won scars'.
> > Even Pound was shocked by his correspondent's language: 'Dearest
> > Possum
> > you pertinacious old whoreHound,' he wrote. 'I aint nebber heeerd sech
> > langwitch not even from de deacons in the methikerkiskpiple church.
> > ..Jess try to normalfy your vices.' But Eliot felt he could afford to
> > let the
> > slip in letters to his old friend, to whom he opened his heart just as
> > he
> > to John Hayward, whose proud boast to American writer John Brinnin
> > of the New York Poetry Center) in 1950 was that, in Eliot's bedroom
> > 'confessional' at 19 Carlyle Mansions, Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, where the
> > two men lived together after the war, 'He tells me everything.' Pound,
> > too, probably knew 'everything'. 'Dearest Possum,' wrote Ezra on 3
> > February
> > when an over-worked Eliot was busy helping to edit the New English
> > Weekly, whose editor A. R. Orage had died in late 1934, 'Where is your
> > blushing Ganymede? Why don't he collab?? [orate].' In all probability
> > this was an allusion to George Every. How was Eliot's 'pimp and pansy
> > series' (his
> > list at Faber, which included Auden, Isherwood and Spender), asked
> > Pound:
> > commend you for putting all the flowers in one box.'
> > In Eliot's letter of 25 June 1934 to John Hayward, he made very plain
> > the nature of the attraction priests had for him. His suggestive pen and
> > ink sketches of a row of headless male torsos in various stages of
> > undress,
> > first wearing plus fours, the second shorts, the third underpants, and
> > the fourth nude but for a single fig leaf, are labelled figures one,
> > two,
> > and four, and described accordingly: 'cold, cool, hot, torrid'; the nude
> > torso is decorated with exuberant radial lines which, according to
> > Eliot's 'key', indicate the 'peculiar emanation or rather effulgence
> > which usually accompanied with the odour of violets is accustomed to
> > envelop the limbs
> > torso of very Holy persons'. The erotic charge which priests held for
> > the poet is indisputable.
> > ============================================================