Philip Gillespie Bainbrigge: A Shrewsbury Schoolmaster
Time & Location
About the Event
Philip Gillespie Bainbrigge (1890-1918) taught Classics to sixth formers at Shrewsbury School from September 1913 until he joined the army in March 1917. During a posting at Scarborough, he met Wilfred Owen in January 1918, and the two men quickly bonded over their shared poetic interests, and became intimate friends. Bainbrigge died fighting in France in September 1918.
Bainbrigge was an accomplished writer, who studied at Cambridge University, where he was part of a circle of homosexual men with literary and artistic interests. His First World War sonnet, which declared his love for 'Beethoven, Botticelli, beer, and boys', has appeared in several anthologies of war poetry, but Bainbrigge deserves to be known for more than this sonnet or simply as a friend of Owen. Bainbrigge shared some of his poems with Owen, and these almost certainly included works with homoerotic content, which may well have influenced Owen's own verses.
Bainbrigge's surviving works are notable for their open treatment of homoerotic desire and for their comments on the role that classical education played in such desire. Two of these works were published posthumously in private editions for a select audience in the 1920s. These are a Latin dialogue between two schoolboys, in which one boy teaches the other about the joys of sex, and a verse play, Achilles in Scyros, which features a cross-dressing Achilles who is in love with his tutor, Patroclus, and a Chorus of separatist lesbian schoolgirls. Bainbrigge's works are witty, sexually frank, and queer in every sense of the word.
My talk looks at Bainbrigge's life, loves, and writings, and explores his queer take on Classics. (Translations will be provided of all Latin and Greek!).
Jennifer Ingleheart is Professor of Latin at Durham University, where she has taught since 2004. She has published widely on Latin love poetry, and more recently on the ways in which Roman homosexuality has influenced modern ideas about sexuality. She is particularly interested in 'underground' works which could not be published openly because of their sexual content. She will explore this interest as the curator of a 2018-19 exhibition at the Bodleian Library, Oxford, which will display works from the Phi collection of books, considered too obscene to be made freely available to undergraduate readers. She is the editor of Ancient Rome and the Construction of Modern Homosexual Identities (2015). Her book on Philip Bainbrigge, Masculine Plural: Queer Classics, Sex, and Education, is due to be published in September 2018, the centenary of Bainbrigge's death.
This event is free entry, all welcome.