The gay socialist writer Edward Carpenter had an extraordinary impact on the cultural and political landscape of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. A mystic advocate of, among other causes, free love, recycling, nudism, women’s suffrage and prison reform, his work anticipated the sexual revolution of the 1960s. Sheila Rowbotham’s highly acclaimed biography situates Carpenter’s life and thought in relation to the social, aesthetic and intellectual movements of his day, and explores his friendships with figures such as Walt Whitman, E.M. Forster, Isadora Duncan and Emma Goldman. Edward Carpenter is a compelling portrait of a man described by contemporaries as a ‘weather-vane’ for his times.
“Exhaustively researched and resonant in detail. It is a splendid reassessment of a man who was both typical of his own time and light years ahead of it.”—Fiona MacCarthy, Guardian
“One of the best political biographies for many years. It is not just a book about the past; it’s bursting with ideas that remain relevant to the future of humanity.”—Peter Tatchell, Observer Books of the Year
“A powerful and entertaining biography of the ‘sexy sage of Sheffield’ … This absorbing book opens the whole period of early socialism in Britain. And it reads beautifully.”—Jeanette Winterson, Times
“Immensely valuable.”—Colm Tóibín, London Review of Books
“I devoured these 550 pages in a day, longing for more.”—Richard Canning, Independent
“Sheila Rowbotham has given us not just an account of one remarkable individual’s life, but has helped to explain how we evolved into the society we are today.”—Martin Pugh, Times Literary Supplement
“An excellent new biography. Rowbotham masterfully renders Carpenter relevant by writing with authority as well as a humorous intimacy that comes from spending decades studying Carpenter.”—Politics and Culture