By Matt Cook (auth.)
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Extra resources for Queer Domesticities: Homosexuality and Home Life in Twentieth-Century London
Hussey was, for example, alert to Chiham Keep’s association with Edward II and the final (unnamed but notorious) ‘crisis’ of his reign (the king was purportedly murdered by the anal insertion of a hot poker). This was, it seemed, an appropriate domestic heritage for the new residents. By imagining them in a ‘peacock bower’, meanwhile, Hussey nodded to late nineteenth-century Wildean aestheticism which was tainted after the playwright’s trial for gross indecency. 15 Having established Shannon and Ricketts in their ancient setting and rendered them respectable in that way, he also subtly signalled their queerness.
Home and the muddle of identification Shannon and Ricketts first met at the City and Guilds Technical Art School in Kennington Park Road, south London, in 1882. Shannon had been studying there for a year when Ricketts arrived, aged 16, to start an apprenticeship to a wood engraver. Ricketts had recently lost his father (a naval lieutenant turned painter) and, two years previously, his (probably illegitimate and aristocratic, certainly penniless) French mother. Ricketts had spent much of his childhood in France and Italy, though for periods the family lived in south east London near the Crystal Palace (which the young Ricketts loved for its concerts and exhibitions) and then in South Kensington (the capital’s new museum quarter).
Readers might find the same. It is, I want to suggest, the play of such stories and histories that does significant work in shaping and bringing into focus our individual and cultural sense of home and family as a place and as an idea – whatever the direction of our desires. What the stories in this book (and my own) show is a certain muddling through. If homes and families were and are often forged in idealism they are rarely lived in those ways. Part I Beautiful Homes The home-life [of the Uranian] has a different colour from that of most homes which women control, but it is, none the less, a home-life.