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Famous Like Me > Writer > C > Edward Childs Carpenter

Profile of Edward Childs Carpenter on Famous Like Me

Name: Edward Childs Carpenter  
Also Know As:
Date of Birth: 13th December 1872
Place of Birth: Philadelphia
Profession: Writer
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia

Edward Carpenter (29 August 1844 – 28 June 1929) was a socialist poet, anthologist, and an early homosexual activist.

Born in Brighton, Carpenter was educated like all his brothers at Brighton College where his father was a governor. He then attended Trinity College, Cambridge before joining the church as a curate. He was heavily influenced by the minister at his church, the leader of the Christian Socialist movement. Carpenter left the church in 1874 and became a lecturer in astronomy. During this period, he moved to Sheffield to live fairly openly in a same sex relationship with George Merrill. A visit by E.M. Forster to the couple inspired Forster's novel Maurice. Carpenter was also a significant influence on the author D.H. Lawrence.

In 1883, Carpenter joined the Social Democratic Federation, and in 1885 he left to join the Socialist League. After dabbling in the Labour Church movement, and achieving growing acclaim for his Whitman-esque poetry, he became a founder member of the Independent Labour Party in 1893. His pacifism led him to become a vocal opponent of first the Boer War and then the First World War.

He was a good friend of John Haden Badley and would visit Bedales School when his nephew Alfred Francis Blakeney Carpenter was a student there.

In the 1890s, Carpenter began to campaign against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. He strongly believed that sexuality was innate. In 1908, he wrote Intermediate Sex, an important though at the time highly controversial book on the subject.

His groundbreaking 1908 anthology of poems, Iolaus - anthology of friendship was a huge underground success, leading to a more advanced knowledge of homoerotic culture. It went to a second British edition in 1906 and a third edition in 1927. The New York 1917 edition is now available as a free online e-book.

Carpenter was an infuence on photographer Ansel Adams. In his early manhood Adams was... "devoted to the comparative-religious poetry of Edward Carpenter, who had close links with the Theosophical community of Halcyon, in Southern California" (Anne Hammond, Ansel Adams: Equivalent as Expression.).

On December 30, 1910 he had written:—

"I should like these few words to be read over the grave when my body is placed in the earth; for though it is possible I may be present and conscious of what is going on, I shall not be able to communicate..."

Unfortunately the existence of his request was not discovered until several days after his burial. The closing words form the epitaph engraved on his tombstone:—

"Do not think too much of the dead husk of your friend, or mourn too much over it, but send your thoughts out towards the real soul or self which has escaped - to reach it. For so, surely you will cast a light of gladness upon his onward journey, and contribute your part towards the building of that kingdom of love which links our earth to heaven."

He died 13 months after suffering a paralytic stroke and was interred in Mount Cemetery at Guildford in Surrey.


  • Towards Democracy (1883)
  • England's Ideal (1887)
  • Civilization: Its Cause and Cure (1889)
  • Love's Coming of Age (1896)
  • Days with Walt Whitman (1906)
  • Iolaus - anthology of friendship (1908) (as editor)
  • My Days and Dreams (1916) (his autobiography)
  • Pagan & Christian Creeds: Their Origin and Meaning (1920)

External link

  • Spartacus on Edward Carpenter
  • A 12-page Tribute to Edward Carpenter
  • Works by Edward Carpenter at Project Gutenberg

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Edward Childs Carpenter