Thank you for joining Riptide on our 4th Anniversary blog tour! We are excited to bring you new guest posts from our authors and behind the scenes insights from Riptide. The full tour schedule can be found at http://riptidepublishing.com/events/tours/riptides-4th-anniversary-celebration. Don’t miss the limited time discounts and Free Books for a Year giveaway at the end of this post!
Please welcome Charlie Cochrane to the tour.
I’m obsessed with the era either side of 1900. To the extent that if I buy (or borrow from the library) any new books set in the era I have to smuggle them into the house in a plain brown wrapper or my daughters tell me off. I try to pretend they’re for research purposes (I write many of my stories in the Edwardian/WWI era) but that’s stretching the truth. It’s the characters who fascinate me. Sassoon, Owen, Brooke, Graves, Gurney and the rest – I can lap up both their works and their life stories.
Okay, you might say, that’s all very well setting a context for your writing but how does the romantic element work in? The simple answer is that Siegfried Sassoon was gay, Wilfred Owen was gay, Rupert Brooke and Robert Graves had experienced homosexual encounters/longings, Vera Brittain’s brother Edward might have sacrificed himself in the line as he was under suspicion of sexual relations with his soldiers1…the list goes on. Scratch the surface of almost any of the WWI poets and you find some connection (personal or through friends) to what would have been, at the time, a deliberately hidden world of gay men. Edward Carpenter’s2 book “The Intermediate Sex” was published just six years before WWI began and he was an influence on both Sassoon and Graves3.
It’s a strange era, with a bit of a dichotomous feel. On the one hand the disgrace of Oscar Wilde would still have been sharp in the nation’s memory but Robert Ross, Wilde’s lover and staunch supporter, still had a sort of coterie in London where several of these poets congregated4. (Owen, whose one extant letter to Sassoon suggests he was in love with him, got drawn into this network after meeting Sassoon at Craiglockhart.)
Inevitably, given the illegal status of homosexual relationships, cover ups were ripe. Edward Brittain’s commanding officer kept the story of his impending enquiry secret until he was attacked in print by Vera Brittain. Sassoon’s autobiographical novels skirt around his sexuality and he destroyed some of Owen’s letters to him for which the poet’s brother Harold was grateful. Harold did much (through both his own biography of his brother and destroying much of Wilfred’s correspondence) to sanitise the poet’s image; I wonder what he thought about Wilfred’s poem on the subject of rent boys, “Who is the God of Canongate”?
Because of the secrecy gay men had to live under, mysteries remain, some of which we may never be able to solve. Did Edward Brittain deliberately choose death in combat over disgrace? Was Wilfred Owen seduced by Charles Scott Moncrieff? Was the death by drowning of Michael Llewelyn Davies part of a suicide pact? How can we understand the lives of gay men at a century’s remove? Read the most up to date biographies, clearly, especially those which rely on first hand sources. (Dominic Hibberd’s “Wilfred Owen a new biography” is one of my brown paper wrapped books.) Access correspondence from the time, and look at the changing drafts of the poems6. Read the finished poems themselves, with the gift of hindsight. Maybe you’ll end up like me, so inspired by the tales you’ve heard that you’ll want to write about the era.
- The name Gurney, featured in Lessons for Sleeping Dogs, comes from Harry – the cricketer – not Ivor the poet.
About the Cambridge Fellows Mysteries
If the men of St. Bride’s College knew what Jonty Stewart and Orlando Coppersmith got up to behind closed doors, the scandal would rock early-20th-century Cambridge to its core. But the truth is, when they’re not busy teaching literature and mathematics, the most daring thing about them isn’t their love for each other—it’s their hobby of amateur sleuthing.
Because wherever Jonty and Orlando go, trouble seems to find them. Sunny, genial Jonty and prickly, taciturn Orlando may seem like opposites. But their balance serves them well as they sift through clues to crimes, and sort through their own emotions to grow closer. But at the end of the day, they always find the truth . . . and their way home together.
About Charlie Cochrane
As Charlie Cochrane couldn’t be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes, with titles published by Carina, Samhain, Bold Strokes, MLR and Cheyenne.
Charlie’s Cambridge Fellows Series of Edwardian romantic mysteries was instrumental in her being named Author of the Year 2009 by the review site Speak Its Name. She’s a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Mystery People, International Thriller Writers Inc and is on the organising team for UK Meet for readers/writers of GLBT fiction. She regularly appears with The Deadly Dames.
Connect with Charlie:
- Blog: livejournal.com/
- Twitter: @charliecochrane
- Facebook profile page: com/charlie.cochrane.18
- Goodreads: com/goodreadscomcharlie_cochrane
Riptide’s Cambridge Fellows Mysteries are being sold in a special discounted bundle by Riptide this week only. Check out the sale on this series and other bundles at http://www.riptidepublishing.com/anniversary-sale
To celebrate our anniversary, Riptide Publishing is giving away free books for a year! Your first comment at each blog stop on the Anniversary Tour will count as an entry and give you a chance to win this great prize. Giveaway ends at midnight, October 31, 2015, and is not restricted to US entries.