Edward Carpenter was one of the most influential radicals of the late Victorian and Edwardian eras, a campaigner for socialism, gay and women’s liberation, vegetarianism, recycling and animal rights. He also met and befriended many of the major figures of the age, including Oscar Wilde, E.M. Forster, Walt Whitman, Emma Goldman and Isadora Duncan. Feminist academic Sheila Rowbotham has drawn on the extensive records that Carpenter kept of his life, and on his voluminous published writings and private correspondence, to produce what is, remarkably, the first full-length biography of this ‘rebel’s rebel’. ‘Sheila Rowbotham’s book is immensely valuable because she understands the wide range of left-wing ideas about progress in Victorian society and its aftermath, which is the context in which Carpenter lived, and thus can see how original and influential Carpenter sometimes was, and how brave, far-seeing and often intelligent. And also how funny and strange,’ Colm Tóibín wrote in the LRB of 29 January.
New in Paperback: Sheila Rowbotham’s acclaimed biography of Edward Carpenter selected by LRB Bookshop
September 18, 2009 by versouk