LGBT+ Exhibition in the King's Library


The library has marked LGBT+ History Month with a special exhibition of LGBT+ artefacts linked to the College. These include rare works by Kingsmen E.M. Forster and Alan Turing as well as famous war poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen. Borrowable LGBT+ literature is also on display for members of the College.

Alan Turing: ‘Pryce’s Buoy’

This short story seems to have been written by Turing during his time enduring chemical castration treatment. It appears to be near autobiographical and features the main character Alec Pryce who develops a machine ‘Pryce’s Buoy’ at the same age Turing devised the Turing machine.

 Alec always felt a glow of pride when this phrase was used. The rather obvious double-entendre rather pleased him too. He always liked to parade his homosexuality…

The love interest in the story, Ronald Millar, seems to be based on Arnold Murray, the other party involved in Turing’s arrest for homosexuality.

Siegfried Sassoon: Common Chords

Sassoon was a member of Clare College but also had a close friendship with Kingsman Forster. Forster shared his short story ‘The Life to Come’ with Sassoon which was published posthumously. The story follows the life of Paul Pinmay, a missionary who has a sexual relationship with a prince, an act about which he feels a lot of guilt. The Prince becomes a Christian and on the eve of their respective weddings comes to Paul with a confession of love.

In return Sassoon gave Forster several signed copies of his poetry and prose which are now a part of the Forster collection in King’s. His copy of Common Chords is signed ‘with love’.

Wilfred Owen: Poems

Wilfred Owen and Sassoon met while being treated for shell shock at a military hospital in Edinburgh. Like Sassoon, Owen wrote of the horrors of war and the tragedy of young men killed in battle. 2020 is the 100th anniversary of the publication of the edition of Owen’s poems on display, with an introduction by Sassoon.

Earth’s wheels run oiled with blood. Forget we that.
Let us lie down and dig ourselves in thought.
Beauty is yours and you have mastery,
Wisdom is mine, and I have mystery.
We two will stay behind and keep our troth.

- Wilfred Owen, 'Strange Meeting'

For more information on the exhibition please see the Library blog.


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