Based on his recent blog series on The Victorian Commons, this LGBT+ History Month Dr Martin Spychal sat down (virtually) with our public engagement team to discuss his research on the queer MP Lord Ronald Gower. We’ve made our 30 minute conversation available for you below.
Martin has been researching Lord Ronald Gower as part of the History of Parliament’s Commons 1832-68 project and been working with Gower’s extensive personal diary, which is an important source for British parliamentary, social and queer history.
Lord Ronald Charles Sutherland-Leveson Gower (1845-1916) was elected for his family’s pocket county of Sutherland in 1867. He represented the constituency as a Whig until 1874. A member of ‘the inner circle of English aristocratic life’ and close friend of the royal family since childhood, Gower is best known for his post-parliamentary career. He was the sculptor of the Shakespeare Memorial in Stratford-upon-Avon, which was unveiled in 1890, and he wrote several popular biographies and memoirs. He is also thought to be the likely inspiration behind the hedonistic aristocrat, Lord Henry Wotton in Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Grey (1890). By the end of his life, Gower’s sexual relationships with men had become an increasingly open secret in high society.
*We would like to acknowledge the pronunciation error made throughout the podcast when pronouncing Leveson Gower’s surname. Thank you to those who informed us of this.
You can read Martin’s series of blogs here.
Further Reading (download in PDF format):
British LGBT+ and Queer Histories:
‘LGBT+ And Queer Histories – Getting Started’, Royal Historical Society Blog, https://blog.royalhistsoc.org/2020/09/28/what-is-queer-history-getting-started/
P. Ackroyd, Queer City: Gay London from the Romans to the Present Day (2018)
S. Avery, K. M. Graham, Sex, Time and Place: Queer Histories of London, c.1850 to the Present (2018)
H. G. Cocks, Nameless Offences: Homosexual Desire in the Nineteenth Century (2003)
M. Cook, London and the Culture of Homosexuality 1885-1914 (2003)
D. Friedman, Before Queer Theory Victorian Aestheticism and the Self (2019)
B. Griffin, The politics of gender in Victorian Britain: masculinity, political culture and the struggle for women’s rights (2012)
M. Houlbrook, Queer London: Perils and Pleasures in the Sexual Metropolis, 1918-1957 (2006)
S. Joyce, ‘Two Women Walk into a Theatre Bathroom: The Fanny and Stella Trials as Trans Narrative’, Victorian Review (2018), 83-98
B. Lewis, British Queer History: New Approaches and Perspectives (2013)
C. Upchurch, Before Wilde: Sex between Men in Britain’s Age of Reform (2009)
J. Weeks, ‘Queer(y)ing the “Modern Homosexual”’, Journal of British Studies (2012), 523-539.
J. Bristow, ‘Oscar Wilde, Ronald Gower, and the Shakespeare Monument’, Études anglaises (2016) M. Cook, London and the Culture of Homosexuality 1885-1914 (2003)
W. Davis, Queer Beauty: Sexuality and Aesthetics from Winckelmann to Freud and Beyond (2010)
W. Davis, ‘Lord Ronald Gower and ‘the offending Adam’, in D. Getsy (ed.), Sculpture and the Pursuit of a Modern Ideal in Britain (2004)
J. Potvin, Bachelors of a Different Sort: Queer Aesthetics, Material Culture and the Modern Interior in Britain(2014)
P. Ward-Jackson, ‘Lord Ronald Gower, Gustave Doré and the Genesis of the Shakespeare Memorial at Stratford-on-Avon’, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes (1987)
P. Ward-Jackson, ‘Gower, Lord Ronald Charles Sutherland-Leveson- (1845-1916)’, Oxf. DNB
You can view Philip Ward Jackson’s selected transcripts of Gower’s diary here: https://tinyurl.com/39mz5cnr