Author Topic: Newly Discovered Letters from JMB to Robert Louis Stevenson!  (Read 1131 times)

Dani1923

  • Member
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 178
    • View Profile
Newly Discovered Letters from JMB to Robert Louis Stevenson!
« on: October 25, 2020, 09:57:32 PM »
I just now discovered this recently published article!

https://amp.theguardian.com/books/2020/oct/25/lost-letters-reveal-jm-barrie-and-robert-louis-stevensons-mutual-affection

andrew

  • Administrator
  • Member
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 288
    • View Profile
Re: Newly Discovered Letters from JMB to Robert Louis Stevenson!
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2020, 12:08:31 AM »
Ahem - hardly lost - more like publisher's hype!  Janet Dunbar gave me several xeroxes of Barrie's letters to RLS back in 1976 - they've been in the Beinecke Collection, correctly catalogued, for at least half a century!  If you want to read one of them, just search for "Barrie Stevenson" in the database where you'll find the original letter plus a transcription ...

Dani1923

  • Member
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 178
    • View Profile
Re: Newly Discovered Letters from JMB to Robert Louis Stevenson!
« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2020, 03:26:34 AM »
Oh... Kind of a letdown! Thought history was being made here! But thanks for letting me and the rest of us know the truth Andrew!

andrew

  • Administrator
  • Member
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 288
    • View Profile
Re: Newly Discovered Letters from JMB to Robert Louis Stevenson!
« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2020, 09:12:39 AM »
That was a bit mean-spirited on my part, and maybe he’s found additional letters... besides which, the publicity might attract renewed interest which is always to be welcomed - so thanks for flagging it up,

Dani1923

  • Member
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 178
    • View Profile
Re: Newly Discovered Letters from JMB to Robert Louis Stevenson!
« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2020, 12:07:01 PM »
No problem Andrew! 😀

mb0521

  • Member
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 67
    • View Profile
Re: Newly Discovered Letters from JMB to Robert Louis Stevenson!
« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2020, 10:13:09 AM »
Reading some of Barrie’s letters do you think this explains his easy going attitude towards the ‘relationship’ between Rupert Buxton and Michael? Perhaps Barrie, having possible ‘gay’ tendencies, understood a possible ‘gay’ relationship between Michael and Rupert? Just a thought!

andrew

  • Administrator
  • Member
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 288
    • View Profile
Re: Newly Discovered Letters from JMB to Robert Louis Stevenson!
« Reply #6 on: October 28, 2020, 11:03:06 AM »
Others may disagree, but I would say that everyone, both male and female, has experienced emotional crushes on others of the same sex, which probably extended to physical hugs and even kissing, but I wouldn't consider that to be "gay" in the full-blown sexual sense, although such a fuzzy distinction is clearly dependent on genetic disposition.

I'm pretty certain that Barrie was asexual and, in Nico's immortal words, felt no "stirrings in the undergrowth" for anyone, male or female. Had he done so, I'm inclined to think that he would have been physically heterosexual, given all his crushes on actresses. Nico agreed that he was (platonically) in love with Michael, maybe George too, and his teenage friendship with James McMillan sounds very romantic as he later expressed it, but I would argue that love and lust are not the same, and that it's quite possible to experience one without the other.

With respect to Michael's relationship with Rupert Buxton, Barrie clearly not only approved but was greatly relieved that Michael had found such a very good friend. But I don't suppose for a moment he imagined anything sexual was going on, simply because, as Nico said, he really didn't know about such things. This innocence of the various sexual predilections on offer may seem hard to believe today, but 100 years ago this kind of information was not readily available unless you went out looking for it, and why would Barrie have done that?  My mother told me that she knew absolutely nothing about homosexuality, either male or female, until she was a grown woman - and working with Noel Coward!

mb0521

  • Member
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 67
    • View Profile
Re: Newly Discovered Letters from JMB to Robert Louis Stevenson!
« Reply #7 on: October 28, 2020, 04:05:56 PM »
Thank you for your detailed reply Andrew. There’s just one issue I have with Barrie not knowing the ‘ins and outs’ of sexual relationships. Didn’t he arrange for an well known actress to have sex with George before he departed for the Front in WWI. This would suggest he knew what was what!

andrew

  • Administrator
  • Member
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 288
    • View Profile
Re: Newly Discovered Letters from JMB to Robert Louis Stevenson!
« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2020, 06:40:59 PM »
I'm sure Barrie knew about heterosexual sex - he'd been married after all, and although it may never have been consumated, I'm sure enough Mary had a shot or two at trying to get him fired up.  As to George's possible dalliance with Gaby Deslys, here's what Peter had to say (which I quoted in my book):

"Did George, during those last few hours of freedom, have anything more than just a mild flirtation with Gaby? I like to think so. Both were charmers, and it would have been a good finale. It is my belief that J.M.B., though so insulated himself [...] from the flesh and the Devil, had the perception and imagination and tolerance and sense of the fitness of things to smile on such a little piece of naughtiness, [...] and even pave the way for it. I have no evidence one way or the other, [...] but I will leave the theory in, because I think it a charming one, which George would have appreciated. And you never know. J.M.B. had his moments of profound insight and wisdom as well as his practically limitless generosity. And he loved George with an exceeding great love."



mb0521

  • Member
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 67
    • View Profile
Re: Newly Discovered Letters from JMB to Robert Louis Stevenson!
« Reply #9 on: October 29, 2020, 11:22:46 AM »
Your responses are always clear and interesting Andrew. What I don’t understand is Barrie’s knowledge and understanding of homosexuality. I know it was a different time but surely Barrie must have read articles in the newspapers about the recent Cleveland Street scandal as well as Oscar Wilde’s notorious trial. He attended many social gatherings and parties as well as coming into contact with many actors and actresses. Surely he must have been aware of such goings on. Or maybe it was a more innocent age and Barrie was blinkered or simply was uninterested in such goings on. Still strange though!

andrew

  • Administrator
  • Member
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 288
    • View Profile
Re: Newly Discovered Letters from JMB to Robert Louis Stevenson!
« Reply #10 on: October 29, 2020, 01:09:51 PM »
I don't suppose anyone could give you a precise answer to this, probably not even JMB himself. In those days homosexuality was considered (at any rate under UK law) to be a "perversion", along with necrophilia, bestiality and a whole host of other forbidden fruits. Those with a curious mind about such things might well have investigated further, but to an asexual - and perhaps to many heterosexuals - why would they necessarily want to know the precise details of what went on behind the bedroom doors of people generally regarded as "perverts"? 

Yes, of course he'd have know about poor Oscar's trial, but the graphic details were not generally reported in the mainstream newspapers. He probably knew the vague meaning of the term "sodomy"*, but would have drawn down his mental safety curtain as to the physical ins and outs as it were. My own guess (stressing guess) is that Barrie assumed that homosexuality amounted to a romantic attachment between two males, but more than that he neither knew nor wanted to know.

* I thought I knew its meaning until I googled it just now. According to Wiki, sodomy covers a load of different permutations, including "any non-procreative sexual activity" - well I'll be buggered!
« Last Edit: October 29, 2020, 01:45:17 PM by andrew »

mb0521

  • Member
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 67
    • View Profile
Re: Newly Discovered Letters from JMB to Robert Louis Stevenson!
« Reply #11 on: October 29, 2020, 09:19:14 PM »
Quite!

mb0521

  • Member
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 67
    • View Profile
Re: Newly Discovered Letters from JMB to Robert Louis Stevenson!
« Reply #12 on: October 29, 2020, 09:24:11 PM »
Did JMB and Oscar Wilde ever meet?

andrew

  • Administrator
  • Member
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 288
    • View Profile
Re: Newly Discovered Letters from JMB to Robert Louis Stevenson!
« Reply #13 on: October 29, 2020, 09:59:59 PM »
Not to my knowledge, but it's quite possible, although their personalities were poles apart so I doubt that they'd have had much in common other than being dramatists ...