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Howard Overing Sturgis (January 30, 1855 – February 7, 1920) was an English-language novelist who wrote about same-sex love. Of American parentage, he lived and worked in Britain. (Picture: Henry James, Edith Wharton and Howard Sturgis)

Howard Overing Sturgis was born in Britain on 30 January 1855, in London. He was born into an affluent New England American family - his father, Russell Sturgis, being the head of Baring's Bank. He had a brother, Julian, who also became a novelist. His parents sent him to be educated at Eton College. He went on to study at the University of Cambridge.

He became a friend of the novelists Henry James and Edith Wharton.

After the death of his overwhelming mother in 1888, Sturgis settled with his life companion William Haynes-Smith (a distant relative, a companion who though many years younger, lived with him until until Sturgis's death in 1920) in a newish house called Queen’s Acre, snugly cinched on the edge of the huge expanses of Windsor Great Park. Queen’s Acre was built in a quaintly eclectic style popular at the time: red brick, tile-hanging, tall roofs, tall chimneys. Its wide verandah seemed to some a reminder of the ‘piazza’ of a comfortable New England home, but it was really the commodious adaptation of Old England that was the point. All his friends referred to the house as Qu’Acre, a camp contraction that mimicked the antique social booby-traps of certain English names – Fanshaw for Featherstonehaugh and that kind of thing.


Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Howard Sturgis and William Haynes Smith on the steps with two dogs at Queen's Acres, Windsor
Howard Overing Sturgis was an English writer. He attended Eton and Cambridge and was friends with Henry James and Edith Wharton. After the death of his parents, he moved into a country house with his lover William Haynes-Smith. His first two novels were successful as far as sales were concerned; his third, Belchamber, failed to gain the same plaudits, however, although Edith Wharton praised it. Sturgis published a short story and a memorial on his friend Anne Thackeray before his death in 1920.

Sturgis and Haynes-Smith were entertaining friends for incessant weekend parties, and to them it seemed that it was not writing but hospitality that was Howdie’s ‘passion and his genius’. His writing was cast as a hobby. ‘He did not care for the applause of outsiders,’ Forster said. ‘He wrote and he lived for his personal friends.’

Haynes-Smith, known to all as the Babe, was a man with ‘a hint about him of race glasses and cigars’, who might sit smoking contentedly behind the Pink ’Un while brainier and bitchier guests held court. His unironic presence seems to have anchored the circle of more or less sexually ambiguous men at the heart of which the generous Sturgis, ‘a sturdily built handsome man with brilliantly white wavy hair, a girlishly clear complexion, a black moustache, and tender mocking eyes’ sat quietly working on some ambitious piece of knitting or embroidery. Though men seem to have knitted more in those days, one friend at least felt it necessary to insist that there was ‘nothing effeminate about his execution of female tasks’. The Qu’Acre atmosphere was cosy and catty, rather than outspokenly gay; it clearly wasn’t like the more liberated ‘atmosphere of buggery’ which Virginia Woolf so disliked around Lytton Strachey – ‘a tinkling, private, giggling, impression. As if I had gone in to a men’s urinal.’ Edith Wharton, a frequent guest at Qu’Acre, wouldn’t have liked that either.

Sturgis's first novel, Tim: A Story of School Life (1891), was published anonymously and was dedicated to the "love that surpasses the love of women." It describes the love of two youths at boarding-school. It was followed in 1895 by All that was possible, an epistolary novel about a retired actress. Sturgis's first two novels were successful as far as sales were concerned; but his third, Belchamber (1904), failed to gain the same plaudits. Although Edith Wharton praised it, Henry James found it unsatisfactory, and afterwards Sturgis went on to publish only one short story (1908), about a lesser writer driven suicidal by the criticism of a greater, and a memorial on his friend, Anne Thackeray.

He died on 7 February 1920. After his death appreciations of him were published by A. C. Benson (1924), Edith Wharton (1934), E. M. Forster (1936) and George Santayana (1944).

Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_Sturgis & http://www.lrb.co.uk/v30/n19/alan-hollinghurst/dont-ask-henry

Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time by Elisa Rolle
Paperback: 760 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (July 1, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1500563323
-13: 978-1500563325
CreateSpace Store: https://www.createspace.com/4910282
Amazon (Paperback): http://www.amazon.com/dp/1500563323/?tag=elimyrevandra-20
Amazon (Kindle): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MZG0VHY/?tag=elimyrevandra-20

Days of Love chronicles more than 700 LGBT couples throughout history, spanning 2000 years from Alexander the Great to the most recent winner of a Lambda Literary Award. Many of the contemporary couples share their stories on how they met and fell in love, as well as photos from when they married or of their families. Included are professional portraits by Robert Giard and Stathis Orphanos, paintings by John Singer Sargent and Giovanni Boldini, and photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnson, Arnold Genthe, and Carl Van Vechten among others. “It's wonderful. Laying it out chronologically is inspired, offering a solid GLBT history. I kept learning things. I love the decision to include couples broken by death. It makes clear how important love is, as well as showing what people have been through. The layout and photos look terrific.” Christopher Bram “I couldn’t resist clicking through every page. I never realized the scope of the book would cover centuries! I know that it will be hugely validating to young, newly-emerging LGBT kids and be reassured that they really can have a secure, respected place in the world as their futures unfold.” Howard Cruse “This international history-and-photo book, featuring 100s of detailed bios of some of the most forward-moving gay persons in history, is sure to be one of those bestsellers that gay folk will enjoy for years to come as reference and research that is filled with facts and fun.” Jack Fritscher

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