Tue, 30 Oct | University Centre Shrewsbury


The Denial of Wilfred Owen’s Sexuality
No ticket necessary

Time & Location

30 Oct 2018, 19:30
University Centre Shrewsbury, Guildhall, Shrewsbury SY3 8HQ, UK

About the Event

In 1987 a prominent British gay activist denounced 'narrow and sectarian' biographers and literary critics who praised Wilfred Owen's war poems to the skies, but couldn't cope with the poet's homosexuality and its centrality to his happiness, his work, his poetic language, the emotions of his poetry, and his greatest friendships.

The activist was Jonathan Cutbill, one of the founders of Gay's the Word Bookshop - 'the proudest achievement of my life'. He was among the members of staff and directors who were threatened with imprisonment as 'pornographers' during Gay's the Word's four-year ordeal (1984-1987) at the hands of Customs & Excise.

HIV/Aids was devastating young men on a scale that many compared to a war when, on 16 January 1987, Jonathan contributed an essay called "The Truth Untold" about Wilfred Owen to the New Statesman magazine. 'An Owen industry has grown up', he wrote, and yet nearly twenty years after the Gay Liberation movement academia was still failing to say forthrightly that the wonderful Oswestry-born poet was gay.

He particularly suggested that literary critics and biographers failed to share with readers evidence of Owen’s homosexuality detectable in the verse. 'Wilfred takes his sexuality into his life and into his death in the trenches.' There was a Big Row! 'Nauseating!' cried the letters-pages of the New Statesman. 'Ceaseless proselytising!' 'Posturings!' 'Scruffy and disreputable!'

We are delighted that Jonathan plans to be with us at this Presentation

Andrew Lumsden presents the story.

About Andrew Lumsden:

Andrew shared in the Gay Liberation Front movement in 1970 which called on all LGBTQI+ people to come out - and so changed the world.

This event is free entry, all welcome

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