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.
Lord Gower, idolatry and the cult of the bric-à-brac diva
-Levenson-Gower , 15 July 1865.
2.2 Cover page from Bric À Brac by LordRonaldGower, 1888.
2.3 Edward Dossetter. Frontispiece, Bric À Brac , featuring LordRonaldGower’s Old Guard and façade of Gower Lodge, Windsor.
Gower was deeply loyal, committed and sentimental about his upbringing and the familial home. In the two volumes of his Reminiscences (1883), Gower’s self-narrative begins with the place of his birth, a space that clearly affected his first and deepest impressions, betraying his own passion for domestic interiors. These
brilliant year, so full of marvellous kindness, loyalty and
devotion of so many millions which really I could hardly have
The Queen had been extremely anxious about her Gorden
Jubilee, but huge crowds gathered everywhere she went cheering
enthusiastically. Society sculptor LordRonaldGower recorded his
exactly space, is ‘a system of representation’ and forces us to pay heed to the idea that space is already a part of the history and realities of sexuality and the multiplicity of its performances. As I will argue throughout, space as a ‘system of representation’ codes the reception and perception of interiors, defined by way of those you pass through it or stand outside peering in through the lens of social control.
I wish to avoid vagueness and generalization, and as a result I pay close attention to particular homes and domestic interiors of LordRonaldGower