I have this large 2nd-hand book I keep in the loo: The Colour Library Book of Great British Writers - you can tell there are more pictures than text just from the title, eh? - with which I while away the dull moments. It has short biographies of all the famous classic writers
- Lord Byron: Bisexual, shagged hundreds and hundreds of women and men as he travelled throughout Europe (yes, he kept count), incestuous relationship with his step-sister.
- Percy Shelley: Dumped his pregnant wife to run off with 16-yr-old Mary, the daughter of his best friends. Serial adulterer, liked to share home and bed with other couples.
- Mary Shelly: Eloped with Percy at 16, and after his death fell obsessively in love with his (married) ex-lover Jane.
- William Thakeray: After confining his insane wife, pestered the wife of a friend for an affair for nearly a decade.
- Charles Dickens: Like to take young Wilkie Collins on brothel-crawls. Dumped his wife acrimoniously and kept a young actress as a mistress.
- Wilkie Collins: Kept two longterm mistresses simultaneously who had his children.
- George Eliot (female!): Lived openly with a married man, thus becoming a social outcast. After his death she married a man 20 years younger than she was.
- Lewis Carroll: Well, it's hard to say if they're true, but rumours continue about a man whose only emotional connections seemed to be with pre-pubescent girls...
- Samuel Butler: Had an obsessive gay relationship with a git who exploited, swindled and manipulated him for 30 years.
- Thomas Hardy: A desperate social climber, he neglected his first wife to sniff around the skirts of society admirers.
- Oscar Wilde: Notoriously homosexual - and suffered for it.
- H.G.Wells - proponent of "free love", total horndog and serial adulterer with an immensely complex love-life (e.g. He left the Fabian society after seducing the daughters of two fellow-members, one of whom bore his child. He ran off with her then pushed her into marrying someone else, but continued the affair).
- Somerset Maugham: gay, but in the closet and treated his wife and daughter abominably.
- E M Forster: Gay, but luckily when his lover got married the new wife became a close friend too.
- Virginia Woolf: Married, but had an affair with Vita Sackville-West.
So ... Are writers just an immoral bunch? Are modern authors letting the side down?
I'm not telling!
*So far as I can tell the English boarding school system existed only to torture the children of the upper middle class. It certainly had nothing to do with education.
The wonderful picture at top, btw, is of Out Cast Theatre, Australia's premier gay theatrical group, in their production Jane Austen's Guide to Pornography.