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English Literature: Nineteenth Century  
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Edward Lear

In the same year, Edward Lear (1812-1888) wrote one of his two near-frank autobiographical poems, "How pleasant to know Mr. Lear!," where his mention that "Some think him . . . queer" could suggest his homosexuality.

The same fact might be intuited from Lear's overriding concern with eccentrics in his earlier nonsense books, but the clearest evidence of Lear's attraction to other men is found in his letters and diaries of the 1850s, 1860s, and 1870s, particularly his references to Frank Lushington, Wilhelm Marstrand, and Hubert Congreve.

Vernon Lee (Violet Paget)

Vernon Lee, the nom de plume of Violet Paget (1856-1935), began publishing in 1880, with her Studies of the Eighteenth Century in Italy, but her works of the nineteenth century give little indication of her lesbianism.

However, her letters and diaries of these years, which remain largely unpublished, reveal her intense attachments to other women, like Mary Robinson and Kit Anstruther-Thomson.

Hopkins's "Felix Randal"

In 1880, Hopkins wrote his elegiac "Felix Randal," praising the "hardy-handsome" farrier, and "Brothers," where the "love-laced" relationship between the two boys seems a projection of Hopkins's own homosexual feelings.

Symonds's New and Old and Animi Figura

In the same year, Symonds published his second publicly distributed book of poems, New and Old, which, along with the same buffers as in his first, contains a few daringly frank homosexual statements in the present ("The Ponte di Paradiso," "From Friend to Friend") and several filtered through classical Greek situations ("Leuké" and the majority in a section of "Poems on Greek Themes").

Two years later, Symonds's third such volume, Animi Figura, appeared. More abstract than his previous two, this contains a long guilt-ridden sonnet sequence called "L'Amour de L'Impossible," which concerns his homosexuality, as well as an insightful piece called "Paths of Life" contrasting marriage and "comradeship" and justifying the latter's "offspring . . . / Of thoughts and acts, an immaterial breed."

Hopkins and Simcox

Also in 1882, Hopkins wrote his famous letter to Bridges confessing, "I always knew in my heart Walt Whitman's mind to be more like my own than any other man's living."

In the same year, Edith Simcox published her only work of fiction, Episodes in the Lives of Men, Women, and Lovers. All the book's love stories are of course heterosexual, but in Autobiography of a Shirt Maker, Simcox makes clear that they are transformations of her feelings for George Eliot and that the male lovers are based on herself.

Symonds's Expanded Greek Ethics and Vagabunduli Libellus

In 1883, Symonds privately printed and distributed an expanded version of his 1873 A Problem in Greek Ethics and in the next year published his fourth book of poems, Vagabunduli Libellus, which evidences the greatest anxiety of any of his publicly distributed poetic works.

Though containing a few short suggestive male-male poems (for example, "The Jodeller," "The Strolling Musician"), the book is dominated by a long camouflaging sonnet sequence called "Stella Maris," about an anguished affair that Symonds depicts as heterosexual.

Samuel Butler

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) composed the bulk of The Way of All Flesh in 1883-1884 (the novel was posthumously published in 1903). His innuendo-filled depiction of the curate Pryer satirizes homosexuality among the mid-century Anglo-Catholic clergy and both reveals and clouds his own attraction to other men.

Lear's "Uncle Arly"

In late 1884 and early 1885, Edward Lear completed his other near-frank autobiographical poem, "Incidents in the Life of My Uncle Arly," where the title character's "far too tight" shoes seem to represent the constraints Lear felt because of his homosexuality.

Pater's Marius the Epicurean

In 1885, Pater's novel, or philosophical romance, Marius the Epicurean appeared. The book is heavy with homosexual innuendo: At each stage Marius's education is advanced by contact with another man; Marius's relationships to his two chief "tutors" Flavian and Cornelius are described in the language of romantic love ("winning him now to an absolutely self-forgetting devotion"), and at the end, Marius sacrifices himself for another man.

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