This book carefully considers the myriad and complex relationships between queer male masculinity and interior design, material culture and aesthetics in Britain between 1885 and 1957 - that is bachelors of a different sort - through rich, well-chosen case studies. It pays close attention to particular homes and domestic interiors of Lord Ronald Gower, Alfred Taylor, Oscar Wilde, Charles Shannon and Charles Ricketts, Edward Perry Warren and John Marshall, Sir Cedric Morris and Arthur Lett-Haines, Noel Coward and Cecil Beaton. The book underscores the discursive history and conceptual parameters of the bachelor as these collided with queer sexualities through social and cultural perceptions. It focuses on the seven deadly sins of the modern bachelor: queerness, idolatry, decadence, askesis, decoration, glamour, and finally, artifice. The seven deadly sins of the modern bachelor comprise a contested site freighted with contradiction, vacillating between and revealing the fraught and distinctly queer twining of shame and resistance. Together the furniture and collections that filled Gower's Windsor home compel us to search out the narratives that bric-a-brac at once enliven and expose well beyond the shadows of the endless and meaningless accumulation that late Victorians were said to been have afflicted by.
Cedric Morris, Arthur Lett-Haines and the decorative ideal
-called bohemian interiors. Morris’s avid connoisseurship, interest in and renown in the domain of floriculture was both a source of profound inspiration for his modern decorative painting practice and a useful subject in his pedagogical programme, while proving to be the basis of deep frustration and jealousy on the part of Lett. Over time, the garden as an extension of the domestic interior landscape and its colourful inhabitants would gradually determine the domesticated choreography the coupled performed.
5.1 Cedric Morris ( left ) and ArthurLett-Haines with
, Alfred Taylor, Oscar Wilde, Charles Shannon and Charles Ricketts, Edward Perry Warren and John Marshall, Sir Cedric Morris and ArthurLett-Haines, Noël Coward and Cecil Beaton. In order to best achieve a more holistic portrayal of these men’s practices of design, aesthetics and sexuality, the complete human sensorium is taken into account where possible and plausible to invoke the sounds, sights, smells, touches and tastes of dwelling; one could refer to these as the sensory landscape of identity. These spaces are symptoms of and enable orientation along this landscape
Interwar glamour and the performances of a queer modernity
Coward worked and played in deeply conservative times. The 1920s witnessed numerous British artists and writers (including Sir Cedric Morris and ArthurLett-Haines) fleeing London to the more liberating bohemian enclaves of Paris and Berlin. King George V famously proclaimed: ‘I thought men like that shot themselves’, in reference to a queer aristocrat who also fled Britain amidst scandal and shame. 2 The roaring twenties were provocatively ushered into Britain when in early 1918 right-wing Member of Parliament Noël Pemberton Billing published a scathing article, ‘The