Obscure Queer

An Anthology of pieces drawn from my collecting and dealing in the obscure byways of queer literature. A new kind of anthology I hope - evolving, odd, eclectic...

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Ionica - William Johnson Cory

William Johnson was a schoolmaster at Eton 1845-72, but not a happy one. He had modern, rather liberalising ideas about education which didn't endear him to the authorities but more than that - and the reason he was 'asked' to resign - was that he was 'apt to make favourites'. Ionica was published originally anonymously in two parts (1858 and 1877) and then finally in one volume, still anonymously, some time later. In 1905 it was published under his own name with an introduction and biographical notes by A. C. Benson. The poems are not great works of literature but they do provide a compendium of all the various strategies that a Victorian man of letters might use to justify his homoerotic desires towards men and boys, for example, writing in the first person as a woman and using classical references where same-sex interest and intimacy was 'expected' if not actually approved of. They also very much typify the tone of Victorian homoerotic and uranian poetry in their melancholy hankering after lost youth and their over concentration on death and loss. For a full discussion of the bibliography of Ionica see Timothy D'Arch Smith, 'Love in Earnest'


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