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Events

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Comrades & Friends

Edward Carpenter's Comrades and Friends Image Gallery


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The Edward Carpenter Forum attempts to attribute photos to their correct sources and aquire proper permissions. We welcome any corrections or additions. 

Footsteps

Footsteps Image Gallery

Places In Edward Carpenters Life 


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  The Edward Carpenter Forum attempts to attribute photos to their correct sources and aquire proper permissions. We welcome any corrections or additions. 

Edward Carpenter Forum History

History of the Edward Carpenter Forum

fc13_ssoc.jpg    The origins of the present Edward Carpenter Forum lie in March 2004, with 8 members of the Edward Carpenter Community, who met to talk over their interest in the life and writings of Edward Carpenter one Saturday morning in a sitting room in London.

    The Edward Carpenter Community (ECC) , a UK based network of support and friendship for gay men had taken Edward Carpenter's name back in 1985 when the community was first formed. Carpenter was an obvious inspiration for this fledgling, idealistic group seeking to create community between gay men, committed to vegetarianism, and wishing to explore alternative lifestyles in close connection to nature. However, over the years, and as ECC grew (it now numbers some 200 active members, with several 100 more on its mailing list), the sense of close connection to Carpenter faded, until he had become a vague figure, of little meaning to most.

    The small group of Carpenter enthusiasts meeting together in the Spring of 2004, decided that a conference on Edward Carpenter should be organised for ECC, feeling that he was too fine and inspirational a figurehead to lie forgotten. Over the 12 months of research and preparation that followed, the network of contacts spread to Sheffield and its Library Archives, where the Carpenter Collection of manuscripts and letters is held, to Millthorpe, the small village close to Sheffield where Carpenter lived for nearly 40 years, making new friendships with the present owner of Carpenter House, with the landlords of Millthorpe pub, and a number of other local people. It was discovered that Sheila Rowbotham, eminent feminist historian and professor at Manchester University, was working on a major new biography of Carpenter. Further contacts were made with Carpenter researchers and enthusiasts within the United States.

    The residential event itself, entitled Edward Carpenter; the man & his spirit, was held over a long weekend in March 2005. The 25 places had been snapped up within the first 48 hours of booking opening, with a long waiting list of others wishing to attend. The event took place in Derbyshire, just a few miles from Millthorpe. Workshops given looked at Carpenter's writings on Sex and the Body, on Spirituality, and on the Intermediate Sex. Sheila Rowbotham spoke on Carpenter's Socialism, and an address given by Joey Cain from San Francisco showed Carpenter's influence on Harry Hay and gay radicalism in the United States. In addition, Sheffield Archive welcomed the group to visit their collection, making available many fascinating Carpenter artefacts. An afternoon was spent at Millthorpe, visiting Carpenter House. And on the Saturday evening, the group celebrated and recalled Carpenter's life through readings, music and song.

    The event was considered to be a great success - with the conclusion drawn that Edward Carpenter was more than simply a fascinating figure of historical interest; that he retained a contemporary relevance, his life and writing raising issues of continuing importance both to the gay community and to wider society.

    A similar weekend event was held in May 2006, again in Derbyshire. ECC members attended from Europe and the US, as well as from the UK. The conference took as its theme; ‘Edward Carpenter and his friendships', Sheila Rowbotham speaking on Carpenter and women, and Joey Cain returning to talk on Carpenter's relationship with Walt Whitman and his links to the American Transcendentalists. The group was also joined by Sally Goldsmith and Rony Robinson, who live close to Millthorpe and have a long standing interest in Carpenter.

    It was during this weekend in May 2006 that the proposal was made to create a new  Forum to bring people with an interest in Edward Carpenter together. It was proposed that this Forum should be of interest both to the academic researcher and to the general enthusiast, and that it should stretch beyond simply the gay community, to include a full range of interest groups and enquirers in the UK and abroad, reflecting in this the breadth and diversity of Carpenter's own involvements and friendship.

    A small steering group has been working since then to realise the vision for an ‘Edward Carpenter Forum' - a vision that we trust would have pleased Edward Carpenter and have been close to his heart. In his autobiography he wrote the following;

   "It thus became possible to realize in some degree a dream which I had had in mind for some time - that of making Millthorpe a rendezvous for all classes and conditions of society. I had by this time made acquaintances and friends among all the tribes and trades of manual workers, as well as among learned and warlike professions. Architects, railway clerks, engine-drivers, signalmen, naval and military officers, Cambridge and Oxford dons, students, advanced women, suffragettes, professors and provision-merchants, came into touch in my little house and garden; parsons and positivists, printers and authors, scythe smiths and surgeons, bank managers and quarrymen, met with each other. Young colliers from the neighboring mines put on the boxing-gloves with sprigs of aristocracy; learned professors sat down to table with farm-lads."

Edward Carpenter, My Days and Dreams

 Ch.9 p164, George Allen & Unwin Ltd., London, 2nd edition October 1916.

 

John Baker

September 2007

Research Resources

Sheffield Archives, Sheffield England

The greatest repository of Edward Carpenter materials in the world. The Archive houses Carpenter's own collection of manuscripts, correspondence, photos, editions of his publications and his personal book collection. They even have a small collection of sandles that were made at Millthorpe.

www.sheffield.gov.uk/archives. 

 

Picture Sheffield

An online service of the Sheffield Archive and Local History Library. Great photos of Carpenter's Sheffield and the surrounding area as well as a number of Carpenter photos form the Archive collection.

http://www.picturesheffield.co.uk /  

 

Adam Matthew Publications Ltd.  

Publisher of the micro film version of; 

FABIAN ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL THOUGHT Series One: The Papers of Edward Carpenter, 1844-1929, from Sheffield Archives Part 1: Correspondence and Manuscripts

and

FABIAN ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL THOUGHT Series One: The Papers of Edward Carpenter, 1844-1929, from Sheffield Archives Part 2: Manuscripts, Cuttings, Pamphlets and Selected Publications  

Adam Matthew Publication  

 

The University of Manchester John Rylands Library

Houses the Charles Sixsmith Archives which has a large collection of Carpenter letters, photos and other materals.

http://www.library.manchester.ac.uk/  
Edward Carpenter (1844-1929) was a proponent of a "larger" Socialism, one that embraced the liberation of the emotional and spiritual life along with the economic. A small-holding farmer and cultural and political activist, he advocated the Simplification of Life and put his beliefs into practice. A man of letters, he published over 20 books, including his collection of poems Towards Democracy, and numerous additional articles. He campaigned through out his life on many issues of social concern, ranging from women's suffrage to the protection of the environment, from sexual emancipation to the formation of trade unions. A unifying spiritual vision underlay all of his life and work. As a homosexual man, he lived openly and in quiet celebration while his writings and example laid the foundation for the homosexual freedom movement of the twentieth century. More on Edward Carpenter...
 
Through his many friendships, Edward Carpenter transversed again and again the divisions of class, gender, sexuality, race and creed. Men and women from across the world and from all walks of life came into connection with each other through him and his home at Millthorpe in Derbyshire, England. Appreciative of this, the Edward Carpenter Forum welcomes a diversity of men and women from around the world and from a wide range of interest groups; social, political or academic.