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Edward Carpenter: A Life of Liberty and Love
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Edward Carpenter: A Life of Liberty and Love

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  31 Ratings  ·  9 Reviews
Challenging both capitalism and the values of Western civilization, 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, Carpenter’s work anticipated the se ...more
Hardcover, 568 pages
Published October 31st 2008 by Verso (first published October 1st 2008)
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Nov 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a great book, I am so glad I finally read it (took a while, the length is intimidating). Very thorough, and the subject deserves it. Impossible to do credit to Edward Carpenter in the space of a review like this, and to really do him justice, best to read the 456 pages of the main text of this book. No doubt short bios of Carpenter exist, and if you don't feel the need to know every tiny detail of his life, you might look for one of them. As for me, I finished this long book with curiosi ...more
Matthew Gatheringwater
Feb 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Reading Rowbothams' exhaustive new biography of Edward Carpenter was a little like reading my own biography. Not because my life resembles Carpenter's, but that my life has changed so much since I was first introduced to him. Much of what I originally admired about him no longer seems admirable to me: his politics too idealistic to be effective; his sex life sordid, self-loathing, and unnecessarily complicated; his appearance absurd and too self-regarding. I am rigid with middle-aged disapproval ...more
Evan Pritchard
Sep 30, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Patient readers interested in late 19th century England; Whitmanites
I didn’t even know I wanted to read a biography of a late 19th century gay British socialist. I saw this book prominently displayed on the New Biographies shelf at the library and impulsively picked it up. Who was Edward Carpenter and why would somebody write a biography about him? Though my questions were answered, this book was not the easiest of reads. Wading through the detailed analysis of his works is a bit of a chore. The book is more entertaining when focusing on the man and his passions ...more
Sam Schulman
Dec 10, 2009 rated it it was ok
An interesting life made unreadable by an irritating prose style and an archness about "that dreadful thing which Freud calls sex," to quote Lucia. After about the 37th reference to handsome strapping young workingclass men accompanied by 37 ways of expressing nudge nudge wink wink, I abandoned the effort of picking out the important themes in the life of this first modern advocate - not apologist - of a gay male way of life, whom everyone knew. How could it not be fascinating? By Rowbotham's in ...more
Michael Schwarz
This wonderfully written and extremely well-researched biography of Edward Carpenter (1844-1929), by the co-author (with Jeffrey Weeks) of "Socialism and the New Life: The Personal and Sexual Politics of Edward Carpenter and Havelock Ellis" (1977), is likely to become the definitive life of this pioneering campaigner for gay liberation.
Jul 24, 2011 added it
There has long been a need for a thorough biography of Edward Carpenter and we now have one that is solidly researched and readably written on Carpenter's long, and, in terms of both relationships and politics, complex life. It provides a good sense of his context, and also of the very diffuse and persistence influence he had.
Nov 07, 2013 rated it it was ok
Interesting man with some admirable qualities but a difficult read. Endless details. Needs some editing.
Jun 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
Fascinating bio of a socialist gay utopian of the Victorian era by the beloved feminist Sheila Rowbotham
Aug 01, 2016 added it
Shelves: motw
Read by ACRL Member of the Week Clint Chamberlain. Learn more about Clint on the ACRL Insider Blog.
rated it really liked it
Oct 14, 2013
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Sheila Rowbotham (born 1943) is a British socialist feminist theorist and writer.

Rowbotham was born in Leeds (in present-day West Yorkshire), the daughter of a salesman for an engineering company and an office clerk. From an early age, she was deeply interested in history. She has written that traditional political history "left her cold", but she credited Olga Wilkinson, one of her teachers, with
More about Sheila Rowbotham...