Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Today In 1944: Homoerotic Poet Rev. Edwin Emmanuel Bradford Died

The Rev. Edwin Emmanuel Bradford was born sometime in 1860 and died today, February 7, in 1944. He was an English clergyman and Uranian poet and novelist. He attended Exeter College, Oxford, received his B.A. in 1884, and was awarded a Doctor of Divinity. He was vicar of Nordelph, Downham Market, Norfolk, from 1909 to 1944. Toward the beginning of his life Bradford was an Anglo-Catholic but he subsequently became a Modernist. He was at one time a great friend of The Reverend S. E. Cottam, M.A., with whom he had been an undergraduate classmate.

Bradford's verse was outspokenly homoerotic, but also remarkably popular during his lifetime given the prudery of Victorian England. W. H. Auden and John Betjeman were entertained by the apparent na├»vety of Bradford's poetry. 

Bradford's work can just barely be interpreted as a sign of innocent "romantic friendship" with youths, but several verses, such as "The Bather in the Blue Grotto at Capri" and "Alan," are plainly erotically inspired. Many of his poems are direct though sometimes self-effacing pleas of love to the young males in his life. In Bradford's own words:

Here's a loyal and a loving heart,
Take it, lad, or leave it.

His works include:
  • Passing the Love of Women and Other Poems (1913)
  • Ralph Rawdon: a Story in Verse (1922)
  • Boyhood (1930)
  • Boris Orloff: A Christmas Yarn 
  • To Boys Unknown (1988)
Many of his poems are directed toward young males, who go by the names of Willie, Eric, Dick, Guy, Frank, Jock, Aubrey, and Silvester.

Here’s a couple of examples:

Hilary is seventeen
Hopeful, though his home’s an attic,
Optimistic and serene,
Though his future’s problematic:
Full of love is he I ween —
So all say, and so I see, too:
What remains still to be seen
Is — has he love to spare for me, too?


O Willie, Willie, Willie, summer holidays are coming,
And I know that you are coming with the holidays, too:
And Love, little chum, beats a heart like a drum,
Rat-a-tat! rat-a-tat! rat-a-tat! tum! tum!
In a sort of merry devilish tattoo.

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