The Lingering Clasp of the Hand Part 2.




Part 2.



Clubland Friendship: Male Desire and its Literary Expression in a Homosocial Adventure Romance.


At the height of empire in the 1880s with the world’s finery on show at galleries and museums in London, a coterie of writers — Haggard, Lang, Kipling, James, Stevenson and Henley — formed male bondings, and wrote and travelled together.  They then set up a clubland at the heart of British patriarchy.  Indeed, Leo and Holly in She commence their journey from a Cambridge college, a centre of privilege and excellence in a college ‘clubland’ that sets the scene for the departure on many of the adventures. 

     At the Savile Club in Piccadilly, Haggard and Lang meditated on a co-authored novel entitled The World's Desire (1890)[1]  in the form of a Hellenic, lyrical fable, which explores the fictive world of masculinity but ends in misogyny and makes extensive use of the tropes and themes of the romance and adventure of Scott (The Waverley Novels), Tennyson (Idylls of the King), Mallory's Morte d' Arthur, and The Odyssey.  The generic works from which Haggard and Lang took their inspiration were concerned with battles, heroism and chivalry, and offered romantic assertions of a lost past, recreating a more masculine content for erotic literature.

     In this part I shall look at discourse redolent of sexual innuendo that attempts to open up the question of sexuality while all the time obfuscating it.  In imagery that constantly symbolises sexual vibrancy, the writers presented notions that could be taken to suggest repressed homosexuality.  The nature of these images, however, was deliberately classical, conservative and acceptable to the literary society in which they moved.  In addition, I shall examine two works, She and The World’s Desire in detail pointing to the imagery contained in the texts that suggests homeroticism.  I will look too at the dedications that authors made to one another, suggesting the motives that may have been involved.  I then move on to deal with the clubs in detail.

      Co-partnership and the writing of alternate chapters were the hallmarks of the balance of forces existing between Haggard and Lang.  Apart from their collaboration on The World's Desire(1890), both writers had been in correspondence with each other since the publication of The Witch's Head (1885) when, in a postscript, Lang recorded: "I am glad to take this opportunity of thanking you for the great pleasure The Witch's Head has given me.  I have not read anything so good for a long time".[2]  Haggard also advised Lang over the writing of the story, Old Friends (1890),[3]  for Lang writes to ask such questions as: "Doesn't my fairy tale need a more vivacious beginning, and what about Alphonso and Enrico?"[4]

     Haggard and Lang were tramping along the "leagues of the long Academy", as Haggard described them in a letter dated 30 April 1920, while they discussed the merits of the works of art on display:


Today I have been to the private view of the Royal Academy.  The pictures seem much the same as they were five and thirty years ago when I used to look at them with Andrew Lang, trudging through the identical `leagues of the long Academy' as he called them.[5]


In an inspiring, artistic atmosphere, with collaboration in mind, and the finery of the paintings on display, Haggard and Lang live the emotionally heightened life of a literary coterie.  A pair of men who were imbued with an artistic talent in a homophobic, patriarchal and intensely energised artistic metropolis indulge in reverie and nostalgia for a past that was more harmonious and sympathetic to the artistry they had previously forged.

     Haggard echoed Lang’s sentiments, writing that the latter was “among men my best friend, perhaps, and the one with whom I was most entirely in tune."[6]  Here again there exists evidence of the close ties between Haggard and Lang and the remarks, whilst conventional enough, suggest the existence of a more strongly felt bonding than had hitherto been the case amongst writers in the late-Victorian period.

     Lang read the manuscript draft of King Solomon's Mines and on its publication wrote to Haggard acknowledging receipt of his reviewer's copy.  Lang's review in the Saturday Review[7]  was highly complimentary, excessively so, it might be said, for a routine literary review.  Lang could obtain assistance from Haggard in the act of examining his proofs.  A letter from Lang dated 2 June, asking if his work could be padded out, stated: "I send you five chapters of my romance."  Lang requested Haggard to send the work on to the publishers rather than return it to him, if it was satisfactory, perhaps hoping for the assumed cachet of its provenance from Haggard's address: "Can I get any more flesh on the dry bones?"[8]   he asks.  In a further revelation of their co-operation, Lang wrote to Haggard informing him that he had incorporated some of his (Haggard's) ideas into the text, and asked for further assistance: "I've worked in your dodge in my fairy tale; it's no more an extravaganza than anything you like...Could you read it when typewritten?"[9]  With Haggard as leader, the writing continued in stages, Lang accepting Haggard’s role as a 'model object'.

     The inability to speak may have stemmed from the paternalist and homophobic atmosphere that they were continually struggling to circumvent.  The cultural "take" on homosexuality towards the end of the nineteenth century was that a recognisably "modern" male homosexual identity was emerging.  There was an awareness that not only had attitudes towards same-sex activity varied but that the social and subjective understandings of homosexuality were culturally specific.  The writers were able to carry on these correspondences, engage in writing sessions, meet and talk and publish their work in collaboration openly at such a time whilst the texts themselves prevaricate over, perform a duplicitous action in, and yet nevertheless tentatively allow the production of a sexualised fiction.  Haggard and Lang write to tell each other that they are “most entirely in tune”, and they plan together a story, She,[10]  that denigrates a woman as an ageing hag.  They mention sex with references to physical matters, yet deal in an innocent childhood fiction as if there were no such thing as sexuality; working together in teams, their bondings are reflected within the fiction.

      Lang collaborated with Haggard over the plotting and story details of the fiercely imaginative novel, She, and the novel was dedicated to him by Haggard.  In 1886 Lang read the novel while it was in proof form before being turned into printers’ galleys ready for publication in The Graphic.  Lang wrote: “I really must congratulate you.  I think it is one of the most astonishing romances I ever read.  The more impossible it is, the better you do it, till it seems like a story from the literature of another planet.”[11]  Lang advised Haggard on his defence of the novel from the attacks in the press.  On the construction which went into the writing of She, Lang advised Haggard to, "Screw it a little tighter, and I think it is undeniably an artistic piece of work.  ... I'd like if you don't mind to read over the early part with you..."[12]  Again, the reference to helping Haggard places Lang as the ‘model object’ in the relationship.

     The hidden psychological motives and implications of the co-operation over the production of She by Haggard and Lang have an important bearing on my argument that repressions and suppressions lay behind the writing of romance fiction.  She (1887) exists as a misogynistic story depending for its success largely on a Victorian masculine readership attempting to throw off patriarchal pressures.  The heroine, Ayesha, possesses what Haggard supposes to be the ideal qualities of the superwoman, permanent youth, perennial prettiness, supernatural strength, and she is white.  Ayesha is of the Arab nation, for which Haggard felt a strong affinity, regarding it as pure, and culturally in accord with his values, its people being strong, virile and attractive to Westerners, a model for Haggard's heroes and protagonists.[13]  Ayesha appears in historical costume and is very wise.  Morton Cohen[14]  sees her as Sagacity itself; “Wisdom's Daughter” he calls her, referring to another Haggard title.[15]

     Haggard's thinly veiled women figures are usually seen high on a plinth, stressing their unapproachability, or illustrated on another unreachable “pylon's brow” that is adorned with hieroglyphics, giving them a classical unavailability.  The works are especially resonant with imagery of the Star of Love.  In the sequel to She, entitled Ayesha, the story is also a quest for the perfect woman.  But the reader cannot easily follow the route that her/his search unfolds, nor can s/he distinguish the various priestesses, shamans, goddesses such as Meriamun and Ayesha or the immortal women such as the Hathor, Khania or Atene with which Haggard peoples his novels.

     A tradition exists in the literature of Scott, Poe and Hawthorne of 'dark' and 'light' characters.  The heroines in the romance, according to Northrop Frye were traditionally either fair-haired English girls or dark African beauties and a tentative choice has often to be made in the corpus between the two stock personages.[16]   Besides the romantic heroine, another woman appears in the Haggard novel.  She remains in the background during the early part of the work, coming to the fore as a force only towards the end, when the hero has lost the heroine and realises, on the rebound, that he may have to accept a less than perfect match.  She emerges as a young lady who truly loves him, is a good manager and companion and might not be so unsuitable after all.  The hero marries her and the couple live in perpetual contentment thereafter.  It was, indeed, conventional in the Victorian novel for a hero to settle down with an ordinary fair-haired girl from England after having previous amatory adventures in places far away from home.  In Haggard's The Witch's Head (1885) the most pointed failure of the hero, Ernest Kershaw, to win his first love, Eva Ceswick, is a feature of the tale.  Ernest's acceptance of a more practical relationship with the woman who manages the keys and accounts at Dun's Ness, called Dorothy Jones, which is a rather uninteresting name after Eva Ceswick, seems to suggest Haggard's own personal life at Ditchingham House.  Though Dorothy is a second choice and though Ernest knows he can never love her in the way he once did Eva, he looks forward to a quiet life of contentment as a gentleman-farmer in the aura of domestication of the period.

     The effect of the Haggard and Lang collaboration is to produce contradictory possibilities of interpretation.  The portrayal of Ayesha in this way is their method of vanquishing the feminine force portrayed as both desirable/undesirable.  They attempt to show that because Ayesha's power is threatening to males she must be destroyed.  'She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed' is disobeyed.  The myth of her longevity has to be shattered, in order to follow a misogynist agenda.  Ayesha represents both the mythic and the human, and Haggard and Lang collaborate to destroy both the elemental and the human female aspect of her existence which suggests deep concerns about patriarchy's ultimate capabilities.[17]

      Haggard and Lang worked together to produce a heated, yet still acceptable, form of writing, which possibly caused some embarrassment to late-Victorian notions of propriety.  While Haggard was writing She, he asked Lang to assist him in the day-to-day writing, sometimes at the Savile Club in Piccadilly.  Lang's letters to Haggard document the translation of She from a figment of Haggard's imagination to a printed novel.

      Unfortunately, none of Haggard's letters to Lang survives.  Haggard probably asked for Lang's help in drawing up the genealogy of Leo Vincey's ancestry.  Lang wrote to Haggard to teach him how the ancient Greeks named their children.  "My Greek prose has 20 years of rust on it,"[18]  he complained, but as a compromise he declared that he would get him "a piece by an Ireland scholar."[19]  Lang suggested that "'Vindex, Vindici, Vincey' would knit"[20]  and this becomes the genealogy of Leo Vincey on which the plot is constructed.  On 12 July, 1886, Haggard sent the proofs of She to Lang and, although he tampered with them little, he sent them back with a note praising his efforts.  Lang obviously admired Haggard's work, but he also criticised the hasty style, another hitch in their literary relationship:


You really must look after the style, more when it comes out as a book.  I would also, if it is not impertinent, reduce the comic element a good deal - it is sometimes so sudden a drop as to be quite painful.  For my own part (and I am pretty sure many readers will agree) there is too much raw heart... and other tortures.  I'm saying pretty much what I would say in a review, only beforehand, I'd like to see it polished up a bit and made more worthy of the imagination in it.[21]


Lang later wrote lyrics to be included in the tale, read proofs, and advised Haggard at great length: "I want it to be A1 in its genre - a dreadfully difficult genre it is," Lang cajoles in his usual scholarly tone and again he writes: "I want you to be very careful with the proofs."[22]  Coming from someone who had lost them for six months, the remark is somewhat ironic.

     In his review of the novel in the Academy, Lang found it hard not to give "any but a personal and subjective estimate" about it and went on to say that for him the book was a rare experience that took him "beyond the bounds of explored Romanticism."[23]   "The more impossible it gets, the better (to my taste) Mr Haggard does it", he remarks.[24]  The Athenæum judged She to be, "an original, attractive, bewildering, impressive, and withal disappointing work"[25]  and Henley confessed that, "For my part I couldn't put it down until I had finished it."[26]



Haggard and Lang: Homoerotic Discourse


She is another tale, like King Solomon's Mines, told by a returned traveller.  In this work, the emphasis on male ties is reflected in the devotion of Leo and Holly for each other and the dogged affection given by Job to his employer.  The hypercharged relationship between master and servant in the some of the late-Victorian novels is thematically dominated by male bonding, and it crosses class, master, servant divides and gender differences.  In turn, it wreaks vengeance on women.  In She, the relationship between Leo and Holly generates a greater sexual compulsion due to the proximity of their companionship.  In the scene where Leo and Holly are escaping danger (the homoeroticism is always fraught with danger), each must help the other to jump across a yawning chasm, a “rocky chamber... for ever sealing the passage that leads to the Place of Life.”  Leo reconfirms their mutual ties:


I heard his sinews cracking above me, and I felt myself lifted up as though I were a child, till I got my left arm around the rock, and my chest was resting on it.  The rest was easy; in two or three more seconds I was up, and we lay panting side by side, trembling like leaves, and with the cold perspiration of terror pouring from our skins.[27]


One can almost sense the depth of the experiences they share together.  At another point, running away from the allegedly cannibalistic warriors we learn that:


There was a curious gleam in Leo's eyes, and his handsome face was set like a stone.  In his right hand was his heavy hunting knife.  He shifted its thong a little up his wrist, then he put his arm round me and embraced me.[28]


This discourse presents unusual intimacy in an era renowned for its prudery and repressions.  One wonders what has occasioned the “curious gleam in Leo’s eyes”: could it be a sexual attraction for Holly?  Violence is juxtaposed with the vocabulary of male bonding, for during the fight with the allegedly cannibalistic warriors: "they did not know but that we could continue shooting for ever."[29]  This could be taken as an image suggesting, as so many intimations in the genre, that there is a connection between orgasm and violence, or it may just have represented the bawdiness of much British fiction.

     Leo, Holly and the Queen set out for the Pillar of Life, which is depicted as a magical flame.  The queen, Ayesha, who has already endured one such experience, enters into the crematory fire, and beckons Leo to follow but she does not survive, and is turned into a hideous burnt out old hag with the face of a wizened monkey, while Leo does not enter.  With no option but to return home, Leo Vincey and Ludwig Holly travel back to England where they can contemplate further adventures to complete the unfinished story.

      Unanswered questions remain: what is the meaning of the fire which gives everlasting life, and why is Leo but not Ayesha allowed to survive by refusing to enter it?  Leo does not risk the crematory flames because he cannot be sure of death.  Since the possibility of immortality is too great a burden to contemplate, Haggard chooses not to allow his character to enter into the golden flame of eternity.  Why does Haggard create originally a mocking, cold beauty without relation to the humanity of women, it might be asked?  Moreover, why does Haggard turn a beautiful woman into a detestable, monkey-like creature and why is his misogyny such a potent force in the novel?

     In the first instance, Ayesha enters the crematory flame and is granted eternal life, but in the second instance preparing for the life together they now foresee, she steps into the everlasting flame which had, when she first entered it, granted her immortality, tremendous powers, beauty and wisdom.  But on this second occasion she is turned into an ape-like creature.  Leo, however, survives to continue his activities in further adventures.[30]  This brings in, at an unsubtle level, motifs from myth or fairy tale about the immortality of human beings.  We might compare, at this stage, the more powerful instance of Leo's choice and transforming kiss, of the same ghastly hag, She, in the sequel Ayesha.(1905)[31]

     To pursue a line of psychological investigation, it will be helpful to look at She in terms of what Jung[32]   terms an "anima" — Haggard's concept of the feminine force in man: the elemental life force within him.  Man's anima, as Jung demonstrated, stood for the collection of all the female characteristics within him, and in a repressive Victorian setting which militated against the demonstration of these feminine forces, a man was in a perplexing quandary to know how to express them.  The anima is the image a man throws onto a woman and then rejects, thereby falling out of love.  The anima is, in Jung's hypostudy, synonymous with the life-urge in man and forms a basis for his actions.  It is the force that he creates for himself in order to valorise his relationship with her and thereby transform her into what he will, but if a man tends to project all the power of his anima onto a woman without examining it within himself he may well turn her into an unpleasant figure.[33] 

     In She it is possible, I contend, to read Ayesha as Haggard's anima, the caves of Kôr as Africa, Holly as Haggard himself, and Job as the companion that Haggard always sought in his fictional collaborations.  As we have seen, Lang had assisted in the writing of She, providing comments and amendments. Jung used this novel to form a case study and make a psychological profile. However, he did not examine the parallels of the story with the life of the author.  We may be able, however, to obtain some insight by bringing to our aid modern psychological insight and understanding into bonding.  According to Jung's theory, Haggard's heroines denote the important sexual connotations of the repressed Victorian young person.  And just as the heroine is tied to Haggard's life, as mentioned in Part 1, so the whole story expresses the constructs within Haggard's character.  The hero's journey through the wilderness of Africa to find the origins of love and happiness in a cave can perhaps be regarded as the expression of underlying Jungian wants and fears.  It is possible to observe from Haggard's background that the seeds of insecurity were sown by his father’s overbearing treatment and rejection of his son’s abilities.  An example of this emotion is presented in the well-documented study by Lilias Haggard, where we learn that Haggard’s father “heaped imprecation after imprecation upon him for his stupidity."[34]

     Haggard and Lang collaborate to produce possibilities of interpretation which are contradictory.  The portrayal of Ayesha in this way is the method of vanquishing the feminine force portrayed as both desirable/undesirable.  Haggard and Lang attempt to show that because Ayesha's power was threatening to males she must be destroyed.  The myth of her longevity has to be shattered.  Ayesha represents both the mythic and the human, and Haggard and Lang collaborate to destroy both the elemental and the human female aspect of her existence which suggests deep concerns about patriarchy's ultimate capabilities.[35]

     At the end of the romance the homosocial relationship between Ludwig Holly, the narrator and Leo Vincey, the most beautiful man of all the academic alumni of his university, persists beyond the African location of the piece and continues after Ludwig's return to his old Cambridge college:


Now I write these last words with Leo leaning over my shoulder in the old room in my College, the same into which some two-and -twenty years ago my poor friend Vincey stumbled on the memorable night of his death.[36]


Again, in this personal and sympathetic note, the erstwhile friend is leaning over the shoulder as these books were designed to be read by a boy with a man similarly looking over his shoulder.  The issue of co-authorship, patronage and the even wider issue of collaboration between the dual authors and the reader, and between reader and reader, can be seen here.  This male attraction allows the possibility of further co-operative ventures in private while a continuing, more intimate relationship is eagerly mooted and ardently endorsed:


Here ends this history as far as it concerns science and the outside world.  What its end will be as regards Leo and myself is more than I can guess.  But we feel that it is not reached yet.[37]


I shall contend that what is meant by these remarks is that homoerotic ventures were certain to continue in Haggard's stories in Ayesha, Allan Quatermain  and other bonded ventures where men were virile and most women were pliant.

      The carefully coded, and "amusing emanation of the gay mind"[38]  as Lancelyn Green puts it, can be seen more clearerly in Lang's spoof of She.  Although the term "gay" originally referred to female prostitution, there is in Lancelyn Green's reading a sense of the masculine.  Lang sent the parody in a letter to "Hyder Ragged" entitled "Twosh", a clearly homophile piece:[39]


   Not `mid the scamps who swagger in the Strand

    The siren-haunted concert and saloon,

   Mysterious Twosh, thou takest oft a hand

    At double-dummy with some wandering "coon"!

    Not there doth Noegood with Fullarder spoon,

   Wrapped in wild music of some brazen band;

    Nay, these proceedings are not opportune,

   But such as the Police would scarcely stand!


       Nay, not in Kork ("barred" is the sacred "spot"

    Where western waves upon Hibernia wash,)

   But wheresoever merriment is got

    By sportive souls that have a taste for bosh,

   And Sporting Times's cheer the lonely lot;

    There (and well worth a shilling), there is TWOSH!


Here the sexual coding is barely disguised, and a doubling of meaning mirrors the doubled nature of the text of She.  There is an indication in Lang’s sonnet of the haunts of pimps and prostitutes, and there is a hint given that the police would not be amused at such activities.  What are the "proceedings" to which he refers?  Indeed, it may be asked why they are not “opportune”.  It was perhaps inopportune to mention sex in a late-Victorian time not yet given to the open display of sexual peccadilloes.  Perhaps in turn they are inopportunely mentioned by the parodist, Lang, for the joint authors were exposed by such revelations which laid open the bonded authors to unspecified yet presumably civil law charges. 

     Although there is a certain affectation of innocence throughout, there is an attempt at titillation in the poem where an indeterminate meaning may also carry an expressly sexual one.  Given the accretion of idiosyncracies and the frequent use of imagery open to sexual interpretation such as “scamps”, “siren”, “coon”, “Noegood”, “Fullarder”, “double-dummy”, “spoon”, “wild”, “brazen”, “sportive souls”, “taste for bosh” and “lonely”, then it is possible to read this discourse as homocentric.  The text sets itself up as a series of puzzles or riddles that must be deciphered.  Whilst the overt reference may well be to what were then contemporary ephemera, the covert meaning may be read as sexual references such as to “spoon” meaning to “behave in silly amorous way; woo in silly or sentimental way.” [OED]

      “Noegood”, although probably a contemporary reference to a name like Nosworthy, implies also Nogood in a moral sense as in, for example, Dylan Thomas’s “Nogoodboyo”, the great philanderer.[40]  “Fullarder“, beyond the surface meaning of an object such as perhaps a silk handkerchief [Fr. foulard], suggests as well full hard, Everard, [ever ‘ard, hence ever hard] or foolhardier.  “Double-dummy” refers to something more than just the obvious hand at cards, such as repeated duplicity — the duplicity in which Lang and Haggard are involved textually.  And the term “sportive souls” may also mean, as well as active and joyous people, those out for sport if “sport” can be held to suggest the activity of seeking bonding partners.  The reference to ‘Kork’ means overtly the Irish city of that name, as in the reference to ‘Hibernia’ and ‘Western waves’, and in the fact that nineteenth century representations of Ireland portrayed Ireland as feminised, pointing to the work as feminine.  It is undoubtedly a covert reference to the caves of Kôr (which glosses as cor!, coeur, or core) in She, and the discourse is patently full of bawdy sexual innuendo aimed at highlighting the issue of sexuality while all the time obscuring it, perhaps in the same manner as seaside postcards once attempted.

     There is, I argue, over and above the ostensible meaning, a clear indication in this discourse of an attempt at titillation where sexual references which contain a double meaning are included in double authored texts.  The tenor of the piece is of raw sexual behaviour and corrupt manners, and it allows for a homosexual reading.  If one puts it all together, every time the writer mentions the significant erotic term, it can be decrypted as having a sexual significance.

     These letters are powerfully pushing such terms towards a sexual meaning which they did not altogether have at that time, that is, the writers discussed in this part are re-writing them in our modern homoerotic understanding.  Their encrypted meaning, in which sexuality is both justified and condemned, is capable of being uuencoded if a modern hermeneutics is applied.  I have been wrestling with meanings here trying to engage them with a modern sexualised sense whilst attempting to let them run free of their assumed or, indeed, “given” meaning to evanesce into what were meant or half-intended by their collaborative inventors.  Although a parody, and indeed parody can serve as a means of hinting and suggestion, the suggestive “Twosh” sent to the person with the not too difficult name to unravel — “Hyder Ragged” — by his bonding partner Lang, has all the hallmarks of an effervescent piece of late-Victorian flirtation, which Lancelyn Green, with his usual perspicacity, seemed to recognise.[41]

     The correspondence between Haggard and Lang continued over a period of more than a year.  They made gestures of support to each other in numerous letters.  Lang's widow destroyed her late husband's correspondence with such "heart-rending completeness" that, according to Lang's biographer, "she used to complain that her wrists ached for weeks and weeks after tearing up Andrew's papers"[42]   The energy which drove this tormented activity may have derived from an all-encompassing jealousy of her husband’s collaborator. 

     Before he died, Lang asked his wife, Leonora Blanche Alleyne, to give Haggard a sign of matrimony — a ring, which was to wed them in literary togetherness and Haggard is pictured in plate photographs of the period wearing the Egyptian ring of Queen Tara which Lang had given him.[43]  Confirmation of the receipt of an inscribed ring is made by Lang in "At the Sign of the Ship" in Longman 's Magazine where he reveals that:


An ancient Egyptian ring in lapis lazuli has come into his [Haggard's] possession which reads Agr or ân-agr, 'The clever writer, or Great Scribe.'[44]


Its oblique praising of Haggard suggests Lang's involvement in the giving of rings.  In S. H. Butcher and Lang's collaborative work Homer:  The Odyssey of Homer.  Done into English Prose (1879) a Preface exists, in what is undoubtedly Lang's style, in which he refers to "the ring – givers”– an epithet from Homer.[45]  This implies that the ring means at least an engagement, some form of attachment and praise, or encircling themselves in the same canon.

     Haggard tried to obtain Lang's help for further ventures in co-authorship.  Lang's reply, partly in French, was to be in the negative:


Faire des objections c'est collaborer, but I don't think I could do more.  Had I any ideas of Kôr long ago?  She, I think, is not easily raised.[46]


"To make some objections is to collaborate" is a revealing comment that could be applied to many of the relationships between the authors in this study.  It confirms long-held ideas in literary and psychological research that apparent contradictions and disagreements between writers who bond jointly in a labour of literary production mask a greater intensity of positive feeling than is often displayed in the writing itself.  The act of objecting in strong terms is an indication of the emphasis that the writer really places on the importance to him of his male partner, though it may not be [but as we see, often is] evident in the textual material.  Male bonding sometimes results in the acting out of strong feelings towards a writing partner where the emotions of jealousy, rage, anger and also concern for one's own ascendancy are to the fore.  The process of collaboration involves a relationship in which serious and unmitigated effort often results in objections, and the writing demonstrates flux and change.  The contention that the collaboration between these authors was unencumbered by emotion and without objection is not a straightforward one, but, on the other hand, there were many moments of obvious accord shown in their discourse.

It would appear evident that their period of intensive collaboration resulted in their own worldly desires coming true upon the publication of the work in 1890.  The World's  Desire lifted Haggard and Lang onto a plane of co-operation which no other writing team featured in this study had reached.  Haggard wrote to Lang in 1907 recalling:


I think you were a bit discouraged about The World's Desire because a lot of ignorant fools slated it, but in my opinion you were wrong.  That work I believe will last.[47]


This letter demonstrates Haggard's confidence in their collaborative ventures on The World's Desire and that he encouraged Lang to succeed in his literary work.  After the novel was published, Lang acted as a sort of publisher's agent to Haggard.  Lang read some of Haggard's works two or three times over, and in letters to Haggard was always "delighted to look over any proofs."[48]  He defended Haggard over charges of plagiarism of Kingsley's Hereward in his novel Eric:  "Let me see the proofs, as two pairs of eyes are better than one."[49]  If "two pairs of peepers"[50]  were better than one, then two writers writing together could form a more far-sighted team to continue their fanciful expedition into male literary togetherness, the imaginations of two co-authors continuously at work, as they forged new images of gender [to which I refer in Part 1], which were constantly changing amongst men in that formative period.

     It was when Haggard had completed his Icelandic saga Eric Brighteyes, (1891)[51]  that he received a letter from Lang about a sequel to The Odyssey on which they had planned to collaborate.  Haggard wrote to Lang referring to their collaboration stating, "I'm no good at fictions (? or flirtations?)".[52]   This reference to “flirtations” indicates an erotic energy in their correspondence, as well as in the discourse.  Haggard completed a first draft and sent it to Lang.  Lang lost the manuscript for six months and was only able to rediscover it among some paper covers.[53]  The letter from Lang refers to keeping it in a large folio volume where it was "put to keep it clean".[54]   Then Haggard sent it back to Lang, who promptly lost the manuscript so completely and for so long a time that the idea of producing the work was almost abandoned.  The next stage was uncertain[55]   but Lang probably sent the manuscript back to Haggard who must have added a good deal more to it, and then returned it to Lang early in 1889, underlining the collaborative nature of their exploit.  "Lang and I discussed it", wrote Haggard. "Then I wrote a part of it, which part he altered or rewrote".[56]  "If we really collaborate, as we proposed, originally", writes Lang, confirming his interest in collaboration, "I'd begin with him [Odysseus]; bring him in your way to Egypt, introduce him to the old cove who would tell him about Hatasu (as in yours) and then let things evolve..."[57]  Each writing a part at a time, the novel was completed and sent for publication.  After serialisation in the New Review, from April to December 1890, The World's Desire was published on 5 November 1890 by Charles Longman.

     An examination of the handwriting in the holograph manuscript of The World's Desire at the Norfolk Record Office made by the present writer shows that the first 53 pages are in Lang's italicised, spidery, hand with its unformed letters and the remainder, from pages 54 to 145, with some small additions (e.g. p. 37 a.), were added by Haggard.  Haggard's handwriting is clearly that of the copyist who faithfully follows the story at the dictation of the model object in the partnership.  After the fifty-third page of the manuscript, Haggard even copies out Lang's own draft of the section entitled "The Story of Meriamun".  It is as if Lang has set him off on his way and Haggard just takes up his nib pen and, in a longhand like a ledger entry on lined paper — still in its crisp, thick condition despite being subjected to fire and flood — painstakingly continues the story that Lang has mapped out for him.  Of course, this copying-out could have been just an attempt to ensure the smooth continuity of the story, but it does point to Haggard as a slavish follower.  In this endeavour Lang is the classical scholar with knowledge of Greek and Roman myths and Haggard the storyteller, who can match him in imagination, character development and incident.  Haggard manages to include more detail in his manuscript draft, such as there being 13 children of Rameses, whilst Lang simply writes more succinctly "many children".

     In a hand-written forward on a piece of thin faded notepaper in what could be Lang's slightly slanted hand with its italic, unformed letters he advises Haggard: "If this here is to go on, I think, first, the Ship of Dreams must go, too absurd, and start with a stronger working in Ithaca...  Then the style wants brisking up and de-archaicising — nom d'un nom, what a word!"[58]  Lang's criticisms are scholarly and somewhat quaint in his usual way and suggest him as the guide and mentor in this collaboration.

     In Haggard's manuscript draft he writes the word "Pharaoh" with the letter "o" before the "a", whilst Lang has clearly written it with the "a" preceding the "o", which is the usual way of placing the letters. [OED. Pharaoh = the generic appellation of the Ancient Kings of Egypt].  This provides further evidence that Lang handwrote and that Haggard continued on with the writing.  The evidence seems to point to Lang as the leader in the project once again.[59]  

     Lang uses an advisory tone in the note bearing his address to Haggard contained within the manuscript declaring " I'd cut down the chen (sic) business very short, to "shew (sic) up" the incantations scene, and I'd modernise the style a great deal except in Panauk's narrative."[60]  Lang is cautionary and appears bolder and more peremptory than Haggard.  Haggard begins a poem to set the scene which, in his firm, copperplate handwriting, offers a suggestion of a new commercial approach to classical stories:


The fables of the North and South

Shall mingle in a modern mouth.

The fancies of the West and East

Shall flock and flit about the feast.[61]


A modern voice must put an ancient tale into new forms creating new ways of rewriting the classical stories of Greece and Rome, but with an agenda of providing incident and outdoor action in place of homesteads and firesides.  The imagery in these collaborative texts offers ways in which suppressed and repressed homosexuality features as a key symbol of the genre of romance fiction.


The World's Desire 


Haggard and Lang's chivalrous work recounts, in a story reminiscent of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, the second journey of Odysseus.  Returned to his ancestral home from his wanderings, and finding among the ruins of a destructive attack the remains of his wife, Penelope, the Wanderer hears the invocation of the bow of Eurytus and resolves:

Let us forth again 

Let us feed our fill 

On the flesh of men.[62]


Having thus sworn vengeance, Odysseus acts hastily but expends his energies in looking for another wife.  He clothes himself in armour, selects two spears from a stand of lances, throws a quiver of arrows over his shoulder and takes the great bow of Eurytus, which no one else can bend.  Then he goes forward to fulfil his mission, but spends the rest of the novel seeking the love of a woman rather than in revenging his slain wife.  It is this bow which produces the song of the tale:


The Song of the Bow 


Lo, the hour is nigh 

And the time to smite 

When the foe shall fly 

From the arrow's flight! 

Let the bronze bite deep! 


Let the war birds fly 

Upon them that sleep 

And are ripe to die! 

Shrill and low 

Do the gray shafts sing 

The song of the bow 

The sound of the String![63]


The militaristic tone reflects Lang's love of chivalry, masculinity, myth and epic.  Hyper-masculinity, then, is a recurrent theme of epic narrative, resplendent with martial imagery.  Later in the novel Odysseus is visited by Aphrodite, who promises him Helen of Troy, the "goddess" whom all men desire.  Soon afterwards, Odysseus is captured by Sidonian merchants who plan to sell him as a slave, but he defeats them and escapes with the treasure by ship to Egypt where he finds both the Pharaoh's sorceress wife, Meriamun, and the beautiful Helen.  He is overwhelmed by the lovely Helen and rejects Meriamun in favour of "The World's Desire".  But the Wanderer cannot conquer Helen easily, for she appears to change shape, although that shape is unclear.  What does the image of the star represent?  Is it male or female?  In his pursuit of Helen his directions are clearer:


By the star of Love shalt thou know her.  On the breast of Helen, a jewel shines, a great star - stone.  From that stone fall red drops like blood and they drip from her vestment.[64]


The star of love is the indicator by which Helen will thus be known, drawing attention to the erotic.  But it is from this moment, Wayne Koestenbaum argues in Double Talk,[65]   that the falling drops of blood suggest themselves as symbolic of the menstruating female figure.  It is the basis of Koestenbaum's study concerning the co-authored work, The World's Desire, that its sexually heightened imagery can be used to demonstrate that the joint authors were engaged in homoerotic writing.  Koestenbaum suggests that, by reaching into a box with her hand, Meriamun could be said to be taking part in an act of female onanism.  In the poem which prefaces the work, Haggard and Lang, in an obscure reference to a Star and a Snake, appear to be using the imagery of a star to represent female love and the long, snaky member possibly to represent male love:

Not one but he hath chanced to wake

Dreamed of the star and found the snake

Yet, through his dreams, a wandering fire

Still, still she flits, the World's Desire.[66]


The star as the symbol of hope and of the guiding way for mariners and travellers has been a long-standing image since early civilisation, but as Morton Cohen has reminded us: "the psychological symbols present a challenging puzzle to the specialist as well as the casual reader."[67]  Their symbolism is nowhere explained in the story itself, but whatever significance Haggard and Lang intended these symbols of the snake to hold, it is difficult to avoid the suggestion of masturbation or insemination engendered by the idea of a long, snaky, object which spits venom.

     In Western literature, from its earliest beginnings, masturbation seems to be associated primarily with the realm of the imagination and with its dangers, as Foucault suggests in A History  of Sexuality.[68]   It is not easy to dismiss here an erotic, nocturnal, onanistic symbolism.  The sequence of dreaming, waking up, and finding the snake perhaps suggests a sleeper, aroused by thoughts of a writhing and swelling creature, turning half in dream, to self indulgence.  Perhaps, associating the snake with a penis, Haggard is making a visual reference to the erotic fantasies created by masturbation.  Of course, I do not eliminate the correlation between the snake and Eve, whose name, 'Hawa' in both Aramaic and Arabic is close to 'snake' — 'haya',[69]  which all relates, possibly, to the position of women at that time.  The snake is associated with the earth and with a reptile.  The image of a snake, of the genus squmata, a worm-like creature, is one which squirms its way along the ground, in trees, scrub, and in foliage.  It has long had resonances of a sexually charged object and, as it sheds its skin, of rebirth and rejuvenation.  In Genesis it is the snake which plants the idea of the temptation in the mind of the woman.  This leads us to an interpretation of the main imagery, for the confusion over the emblems of the Star and the Snake could be taken to suggest a more intriguing, fundamental, human choice between love and evil; the choice between pure love and the profane, and between lust and purity.

 The allegory in the romance The World's Desire swings from star to snake and back again, as it would appear that the authors change from male to female imagery:


'What did I tell thee,' says Aphrodite.  'Was it not thou shouldst know the Golden Helen by the Red Star on her breast, the jewel whence fall the red drops fast, and by the Star alone?  And did she not tell thee, also, that thou shouldst know her by the Star?  Yet when one came to thee wearing no star but girdled with a snake, my words were all forgotten, thy desires led thee whither thou wouldst not go.  Thou wast blinded by desire and couldst not discern the False from the True.  Beauty has many shapes, now it is that of Helen, now that of Meriamun, each sees it as he desires it.  But the Star is yet the Star and the Snake is yet the Snake and he who, bewildered by his lusts, swears by the Snake when he should have sworn by the Star, shall have the Snake for guerdon.'[70]


The images of the snake and the star seem to present here a difficult choice between which woman to love, the holy Helen or the wicked Meriamun.  The quandary about femininities throughout the romance genre is constantly to the fore here.  The choice is difficult and fraught with danger because it will influence the outcome of Odysseus's quest.  Is he to choose evil or good, beauty or wickedness?  The imagery leads to perplexing and confusing issues in the minds of the readers over whether the imagery can be taken to represent Haggard’s and Lang's difficulties in recognising the intensity of their own relationship.

      Both Haggard and Lang dislike, it appears, the female sex because their construct of masculinity seems to avoid any exemplification of feminine characteristics.  The image of the curling snake arguably represents the male sex because of its vitality and penis-like attributes.[71]  When the long curling snake is revealed to possess the head of a human, albeit a female one, that of Meriamun, the reader is faced with the difficulty of deciding what the serpent represents — sin or beauty.  Sin is personified in this image as a snake which takes the form of a human.  When Meriamun is questioned by the snake about what s/he represents, her answer confirms the idea of an alleged duplicity of the female psyche which Haggard so despised.  The psychological allegory of the images appears to be that the snake represents sin, not purity and chastity.  The snake proceeds from the evil side of the queen's nature not the beauteous one.

      Freud, referring to snakes in his interpretation of the Medusa's head dream[72]  viewed the decapitated head with its snaky looks as a "genitalized head", an upward displacement of the genital organs so that the mouth stands for the  vagina dentata  and the snakes for pubic hair.  Freud, thereby, seems to confirm long-held suspicions of the snake's identification with sexuality, of the phallus, with encirclement, all-envelopment and, in particular, with the pubic and erogenous areas of a woman's body.

     Haggard and Lang seem to assert that beneath the beauty of the female lies duplicity and evil, beneath the disguised sex of the serpent there is a fundamental criticism not only of female nature but of human nature.  Haggard and Lang collaborate in an equivocal epic genre in a story filled paradoxically with malice, duplicity and lust to represent beauty, and a story of beauty, attraction, desire, and faith in humanity to represent evil:


And the first time that she breathed the Thing stirred and sparkled.  The second time that she breathed it undid its shining folds and reared its head to hers.  The third time that she breathed it slid from her bosom to the floor, then coiled itself about her feet and slowly grew as grows the magician's magic tree.

  Greater and greater it grew yet, and as it grew it shone like a torch in a tomb, and wound itself about the body of Meriamun, wrapping her in its fiery folds till it reached her middle.  Then it reared its head on high, and from its eyes there flowed a light like the light of a flame, and lo! its face was the face of a fair woman - it was the face of Meriamun![73]


Tumescence is the subject here, as the snake grows.[74]   As we have seen in Heart of Darkness and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the idea of growth and tumescence, and of detumescence, is a feature of the heated genre of male adventure.  The snake and the woman take part in a lengthy conversation and then imitate a serpent devouring itself.  The image is the standard emblem of eternal life, represented by the unending circle of the snake's body and with, importantly, the serpent shedding its own shrivelled skin and revealing a shining one, suggesting new life or immortality.  Its venoms suggest an ejaculatory threat, and the power to penetrate areas associated with the female body is mooted.  We have here the idea of a ring, a common fetish of Haggard's, possibly suggesting marriage, or, at least, union, as they unite in collaboration.  Haggard and Lang seem to suggest to each other, “I could eat you” – a conventional image for sexual desire.  It is a common image of union, of total commingling intimacy.  Every time the pair of writers use this imagery of a snake devouring itself they are tapping the same metaphor, using powerful images of swallowing and being swallowed.  The imagery is ambiguous for the snake was associated in Christian traditions with fertility and femininity while the recoiled serpent indicated infinitude and life.  Haggard uses the emblem of the star as a guiding star for his characters, which has connotations of Lucifer, and, most paradoxically — in view of my remarks about the serpent being a male image, because the serpent in the garden was traditionally female — connotations of Eve, for the star is associated with birth and rebirth, tokens of potency, fertility and fecundity, with which Haggard particularly associated himself.

      The star does not necessarily therefore represent love, but rather its brightness could be taken, I would argue, to represent South East Africa, where Haggard saw his ambitions and love for life blossom, and the snake does not represent evil but stands for the venom which Haggard felt over the patriarchal proscriptions which surrounded him.  Haggard, a committed imperialist,[75]  especially in his activities in the Empire, saw his future as only represented by the star of hope.

     The recognition of complaisant, heterosexual and courtly love is finally made by Haggard and Lang in the novel despite its toying with passionate togetherness in a gender-free environment in which the two authors write adventures where femininities are complex and distorted and where the masculinities which they sought to portray were bolder and more realistically elaborated than had been previously.

     In The World's Desire Helen decrees that, although he is clearly mortal, "Thou shalt live again, Odysseus, as thou hast lived before, and life by life we shall meet and love till the end is come."[76]  So the wages of love is life after death, resurrection for heterosexual love.  The courtly ideal contained in heterosexual love is prominent in the romance form.  In this passionate, heterosexual scene Helen promises Odysseus immortality, but it also indicates the desire of the author, Haggard, for immortality through reincarnation, for it is well documented that he was a firm believer in the rebirth of the self.  Haggard outlines the principle of the reincarnation of the self after death in She and Allan (1921).[77]  Referring to life after death, he comments that perhaps man, "does possess what for convenience is called an immortal soul, that manifests itself in one shape or another; that may sleep for ages but, waking or sleeping still remains itself, indestructible as the matter of the universe."[78] 

     Quatermain  transcends material existence to travel to the underworld where he meets the spirits of the people from those contemporaneous times and from previous ones who are also dead.  In confirmation of these ideas of transcendentalism, Haggard explains in his biography that, "mysticism in moderation adds a certain zest to life and helps to lift it above the commonplace",[79]  revealing a belief in the regenerative power of spiritualism.

     In The Ancient Allan (1920), Allan Quatermain is an Egyptian lord brought back from the past with the assistance of a mind-enhancing drug, Taduki, made from the ground - leaves of an exotic plant, and in When the World Shook (1919) an islander from Oceania is roused from a quarter of a million years' sleep by modern scientific medicine.  In his biography Haggard revealed that he himself was, at once, a reincarnation from a number of pasts, the Vikings, a black family, a stone age group, and the ancient Egyptians, which discoveries resulted from visions he had experienced in sleep.[80]  This might explain the provenance of the former novel coming from a joint effort by two writers whose interest in reincarnation and the supernatural is reflected in their plots.  The cultural and historical determinations of this work lay in a late-Victorian interest in psychical research and the occult illustrated in texts about the mysteries of reincarnation and rejuvenation myths such as Haggard's She.

     Stevenson pointed out the misogyny of The World's Desire and wrote a parodic poem which disparaged its heterosexual plot.  According to Stevenson, Lang and Haggard were foolish to make their aged Odysseus seek a wife.  He called the novel both 'audacious' and 'wrong', and in broad Scots he derides the wife-seeking quest of Odysseus:

Your conduc' is vicious,

Your tale is suspicious

An' queer

Ye ancient sea-roamer

Ye dour old beach-comber

Frae Haggard to Homer

Ye Veer.


Sic veerin and steerin'!

What port are ye nearin'

As frae Egypt to Erin

Ye gang.


Ye ancient old blackguard

Just see whaur ye're staggered

From Homer to Haggard

And Lang.


In stunt and in strife

To gang seeking a wife

At your time o' life


It would appear that Stevenson found Haggard and Lang’s work regrettable because at their time of life it was inappropriate in the persona of Odysseus to seek matrimony and indelicate in their own names to write about it.  In confirmation of the bonds of collaboration which were now well established, Stevenson wrote to Lang, who reported to Haggard: "Stevenson says he is 'thrilled and chilled' by Meriamun."  Lang did not hold his own efforts in high esteem and parodied the contribution he made in a few lines of doggerel:


It did not set the Thames on fire

It is not quite "The World's Desire!

Much rather do the public scoff,

And yell to Nature, 'Take them off!'

While critics constantly conspire

To slate the hapless "World's Desire".[82]

At that stage, the novel had not achieved a great deal of literary success; indeed, it did not achieve critical acclaim at first but sold well for some time, as did all the adventures.  Its curious provenance in collaboration, by a pair of writers interested in the market for fiction, the portrayal of epic, and the recounting of old Greek, Roman and Egyptian legend is part of this success.  Lang wrote to Haggard pointing out that he had made emendations to Haggard's version of the text:


You gave Loi a white beard!  I shaved it! I have not been idle.  I've worked on the advent of the jews, (sic) knocked out a lot of Wardour Street; added a heap and re-written the first chapter plainer and shorter.[83]

The beard sometimes indicates in masculine culture, the mature, middle aged man, and distances him from the character of the youthful lover.  In an attempt at a collaborative act in lauding masculinity it could be said that their use of imagery only adds up to gynophobia and misogyny.  They re-imagine masculinity as a power to emasculate and destroy women, perhaps assuaging, by doing so, the losses and defeats they had experienced.  At a later date Lang, admitting its misogyny, wrote:


I hope you will like the new turn to the death of Pharaoh, where I give Meriamun a song, and tell the death differently.  Chess again, and Pharaoh is dead!  I like Helen's song in the flames; she lets the women have it.  It's rather a misogynistic book on the whole.[84]

A reading of the novel, and in particular its treatment of Meriamun, would underline this comment by Lang which confirms the novel's misogyny.  It is not clear what Helen or Meriamun represents: do they represent evil or good, dual souls or individuals we might ask?  It seems to be unrelated to the idea of good and evil as such, but implies, rather, a concept of human nature being part of a divided identity, suggested by the shape-shifting of Helen.  Is Helen to be thought of as discrete and uniquely sexed, or as sexually divided?  The characterisation of Helen and Meriamun leads to ideas of the complex and the divided nature of human identity.


Inscribing Male Friendship


Once collaboration is completed a desire remains to acknowledge the work of the other writer.  The dedications which romance writers make to their male friends are further evidence of double identification where male authors working in pairs produced texts with homoerotic figurings and characterisations in which characters are bonded together.  They are an avowal of disposal towards, an intention of acquaintance with, or expression of interest in, the other person.  The act of inscription in another's book seems to betray an intensity of inner feeling about the other one of the pair of writers.  It is suggestive of a dedication of oneself, heart and soul to the service of the other.  

     The dedications are the passport into such adventures for the male boy reader.  It involves the boy reader in an act of collaboration with the authors over their dedications as to why they were made and in what circumstances.  The reader is entitled to wonder why the dedication is addressed to a particular person or group such as, "all the big and little boys who read it",[85]  and what the role of the dedicatee in the framing of the narrative represents.  The authors were able to carry on a public correspondence between themselves in a way which would not draw attention to their passionate relationship, but its intent would be understood by the receiver.  Were the dedications made as a result of bondings formed during the collaborations and were they inscribed to show respect and admiration for the dedicatee, it might be asked?

     Others besides, in literature, have dedicated their publications to someone else, of course.  The act of inscription of a work to another has an ill-documented background.  It was, however, a practice for writers to dedicate work to an influential person in the hope of artistic reward or financial benefit.  Buchan dedicates his adventure romance, Prester John  to Lionel Phillips in an inscription which includes the line: "But in you, I think, the boy is not over."[86]  While Buchan's dedication is only evocative of the boy in a man and the continuation of that perennial idea of "The Games Men Play",[87]  an emotion connected with the boyishness in one's desire to emulate heroes and read of their adventures, so Lang's dedication to a friend is an attempt to gain his admiration.

     Important connections with respectable members of the establishment meant an appealing sanitisation for men engaged in writing in pairs and providing for a voyeuristic public.  Dedications provided a platform for the appeal to others, therefore, to consider the talents, ideas, and rhetoric emanating from the literary and homosocial mind.  The homoerotic fiction appealed to a Victorian and early Edwardian public that was becoming more and more aware, as a result of increased commercialisation, of the existence of an available form of fiction dealing with repressed sexuality and duality beginning with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which actually replicates Stevenson’s earlier collaborative play Deacon Brodie, Max Beerbohm's "The Happy Hypocrite" about a man whose face is concealed by a mask, Conan Doyle's story, "The Sign of Four", and culminating in Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray.  Dorian Gray, King Solomon’ s Mines and She each feature the death of innocent women and incorporates a trio of romance novels that engages in misogyny.  William A. Cohen has looked at Wilde’s work and produces a reading where he suggests that it “encodes homoerotic themes in multiple and deliberate ways.”  Whilst Cohen’s scholarship as much as any other has done a great deal to find and identify “the obscured sexual signification in Wilde’s work”, the hermeneutics in which I am engaged here involves a similar translation of Haggard and Lang's discourse from veiled to open.[88]  Henley's preface to Lyra Heroica[89]  includes the explanation that: "This book of verse for boys is, I believe, the first of its kind in English" suggesting that it was an original work of poetry to be read by boys and defines its intended readers as boys rather than girls and men and women.  Andrew Lang dedicated to Haggard a collection of essays, In the Wrong Paradise (1887), which recalls the pleasure of boyhood and suggests the desire to return to that state of innocence.  There could be an element of interest in returning to boyhood here in the act of dedication, and it appears to draw attention to the other writer, and could be an appeal to him for favours:


Dear Rider Haggard,-I have asked you to let me put your name here, that I might have the opportunity of saying how much pleasure I owe to your romances.  They make one a boy again while one is reading them.[90]


There is a return to the age of boyhood for the reader, and a reference to the pleasures of the romances which makes reading a specifically masculine collaborative endeavour.  This implies that there was a "boy" ethos in their dedications which such writers wished to recreate.  In a characteristic remark, Lang in his dedication to Haggard attempts to explain, "We are all savages under our white skins, but you alone recall to us the delights and terrors of the world's nonage."

     There is a suggestion here of a linkage to a new conception of "boyhood", partly as a result of changes in education and social reform since 1870, but partly also as a result of the emphasis on the boy hero, as propounded by writers and artists in the period, and can be seen also in a picture painted by Sir John Everett Millais, R. A. envisaging a nascent, adventurous, chivalrous manhood overseas, entitled The Boyhood of Raleigh.  As the young Raleigh and a boy friend are pointed out Atlantic shores by an old mariner, it is clear that here is a reference to the wider "Pontic coast", the "Oriental Eden-isles", "Hong Kong, Karnac and the rest", to which Tennyson alludes in his poem, "To Ulysses",[91]   that beckon them, but it also alludes to boyhood and companionship.

     The dedications which writers made to others may have implied a benefit would be gained as a result of the dedicatee reading it and a degree of kudos over the public recognition and moment of fame.  By his dedication to those boys — arguably including Lang — who became his sons by reading it, he anticipated they might discover something socially uplifting enough to help them in their journey to become little gentlemen.  This dedication is arguably a lament for the passing of an (imagined) heroic age which might be considered as an imaginative refeudalisation in the midst of industrialism.

     Questions remain: why did the authors in question dedicate; to whom were other dedications to unknown persons made, and why so admiringly?  In an effusive tribute Stevenson warmly dedicates Treasure Island to:


S. L. O. an American Gentleman, in accordance with whose classic taste the following narrative has been designed, it is now, in return for numerous delightful hours, and with the kindest wishes, dedicated by his affectionate friend the author.[92]


The dedication perhaps suggests a closer warmness in their bonding than the surface remarks for the "numerous delightful hours" are not described more than cursorily, yet seem to indicate an intensity of feeling that I draw attention to elsewhere.

     The dedications that writers made to each other are possibly evidence of further dual identities.  For example, the echoes of Amiel in Conrad's dedication of Almayer's Folly: "To the memory of T. B." with an inscription posing the question: "which of us has not had his promised land, his moment of ecstatic bliss and his ending in exile?" recall the regret of Henri-Frédéric Amiel at the loss of youthful idealism, the peaks and summits of man's existence, and the emotions surrounding late middle-age in men:


Qui de nous n'a eu sa terre

promise, son jour d'extase et

sa fin en exile?[93]


Many of the dedications were an attempt to capture the attention, respect, and admiration of another person, and were part of the ethos of the boy in literature, and indicate the intensity of the relationship between the members of the coterie which I examine and the doubled nature of work on the romance.



The Homosocial Sites


She can be viewed as an extension of clubland fantasy.  The romance characters, Ludwig Holly and Leo Vincey, set off on vacation in Africa from their unnamed Cambridge College at the heart of patriarchy.  Quatermain begins his adventure from his club, and the adventure novels are intimately linked to ‘clubland’ by references to the activities in a clubland fantasy where fantasy imperial adventure is conceived. 

      In the nineteenth century the role of editors, literary friendships and camaraderie continued in the world of the men's clubs, the tea houses[94]  and coffee shops, and the music hall[95]  where the bondings took place.

     One source of the clubs as a place for the gathering of men in the pursuit of common endeavours may have been the coffee houses.  The earliest of these was at Oxford, and in the seventeenth century they had increased in number so that, by the beginning of the eighteenth century, they surpassed 2,000.[96]  The coffee houses of Covent Garden were frequented by the "wits", that is the poets and writers.  They were the centre for political discussions and were probably the originators of the modern tabloids.  In the City of London the establishment of coffee houses encouraged the growth of institutions such as Lloyd's of London, of the Baltic, and more importantly, the Stock Exchanges.  In St. James's the coffee houses of the "beaux", which were little more than "schools of fashion" were situated.  Of those clubs for men which flourished, by the nineteenth century the Thatched House in St. James's was one such club where literary tastes were encouraged.  Several clubs still exist in the St. James's and Piccadilly areas these days, including the Savile, the Athenaeum and the Travellers Clubs.  What the clubs and coffee houses had in common was that they were a place where men could meet for conversation, friendship and refreshment.  They were numerous enough in London for writers to take advantage of their availability at every opportunity, and many writers have referred to the fact on several occasions that they repaired to such coffee and tea houses in Villiers Street, on the Strand, in Bond Street, and elsewhere for collaborative literary endeavours.

     Gentlemen's clubs were for "men only" by definition; yet clubland has partly changed its gender classification since the 1890s.  The absence of women, the fact was that the men escaped to the clubs and to ancestral homes, meant that conventional constructions of masculinity appeared to rule out sensitivity and softness on the part of males.  Men were expected to be hearty, and sport loving while avoiding what were seen as feminine traits.  There was often a tendency for males to be portrayed as aggressive and insensitive, and for representations of masculinity to highlight power, control and patriarchy.

     The gentlemen of the period in question did invariably acquire a club and their clubland membership was a factor in their behaviour.  But there is an essential difference between membership of a club like the Athenæum, to which Kipling was elected under rule II which permitted special election on the grounds of distinction, and his membership of the Savile, where he felt, according to Angus Wilson in  The Strange Ride of Rudyard Kipling some unease, "where they all made him so welcome and yet saw only aesthetic beauty and humour and stirring metres in his work."[97]  This suggests that the club had an ethic which was not totally in keeping with Kipling's own self image.  It raises questions of whether Kipling saw himself as a highbrow figure at all, but rather as one who wanted to popularise working class speech in poems such as "Barrack Room Ballads" and in stories of the kind of "Danny Deever".  Kim, whose genealogy is made up of Anglo-Irish descendents, lives in a hybrid world which could be viewed as a reflection of Kipling's uncertainty about his own personal background.

     The Athenaeum club, with its professional class, establishment ethos, was the main place for Kipling to be seen with Cecil Rhodes and Alfred Milner, and in a reference to such a meeting in a letter to Dr. Conland in Brattleboro he is skittish about its importance, and anticipates a thoroughly bonhomous occasion: "And talking of smashes and their results reminds me that we are going to London in a few days to meet Cecil Rhodes at dinner.  I think it will be rather larks."[98]  But the Athenaeum was a convenient, though forbidding place to meet, for as Kipling wrote to Stanley Weyman: "The Athenæum (Golly what a club - I've been afraid to enter it for fear the hall porter would kick me out) is good enough for me - and London in Jubilee is unspeakableTophet."[99]  Does this suggest that Kipling felt a sense of inadequacy in facing the people with whom he would be required to socialise at such a prestigious club?  Or was there some other reason why admittance to the Athenaeum club would not be forthcoming?  There can be little doubt, however, that Kipling would find the clubland at the centre of the metropolis at that festive moment, when the Queen was celebrating her golden wedding anniversary, to be of a most fashionable kind.

     A notion of the attire of, and the attitudes of club members in the late Edwardian period towards the passing of a royal figure, may be gained from Virginia Woolf's monitoring of the reactions of White's club members in St. James's to a royal personage, in her description of the men who barely glimpse a royal car passing by:


...tall men, men of robust physique, well-dressed men with their tail coats and their white slips and their hair raked back, who, for reasons difficult to discriminate, were standing in the bow windows of White's with their hands behind the tails of their coats...  They perceived instinctively that greatness was passing, and the pale light of the immortal presence fell upon them...[100]


The sense of patronage extended, it seems, to the portals of the clubs in the Edwardian period.  The veneration for a mysterious figure, the barely seen royal benefactor, and the effect of majesty on those whom it patronises, is apparent.  The club can also be seen as a microcosm (or perhaps even a macrocosm) of society from Conan Doyle’s story ‘The Greek Interpreter’, where a vantage point on the world from the club premises is gained:


The two sat down together in the bow-window of the club.  “To anyone who wishes to study mankind this is the spot,” said Mycroft.

“Look at the magnificent types!  Look at these two men who are coming towards us for example.”[101]


The clubland ethos was one in which two authors such as Haggard and Kipling could bond together and produce work in collaboration.  The work which they planned and wrote together was often remarked upon and discussed in the male only reading rooms of the clubs.

    Writers feature the clubs as part of the collaborative exercise in imperial promotion.  Various characters in the romance of masculine adventure are members of a London club.  Richard Hannay in Buchan’s The Thirty-Nine Steps is opposed by a member of Boodle’s, while Hannay himself attended a club in St. James’s Street.  The romance characters, Ludwig Holly and Leo Vincey set off on vacation in Africa from their unnamed Cambridge College at the heart of patriarchy.  The English Public school prefect’s room, too, was an introduction to membership of the clubs of Piccadilly, Whitehall and St. James’s.

     Sherlock Holmes, indeed, visited good restaurants where he would enjoy the benefits of a good table, excellent wines and convivial company.  Mycroft Holmes was a member of the Diogenes Club that was conveniently situated opposite his rooms in Paddington Street.  It was Mycroft’s custom to stay at the club until twenty to eight when he would repair to his own rooms for his dinner.  The Diogenes Club was founded by those who some from shyness, some from misanthropy, have no wish for the company of their fellows.[102]

 Watson goes on to recount that Holmes’s brother was not averse to the “comfortable chairs and the latest periodicals”.  In the selective atmosphere of the club no member was allowed “to take the least notice of any other one.”[103]  Except in the Stranger’s Room, no one was allowed to carry on a conversation, and it was a case of three contraventions leading to dismissal, if the offence was repeated.  Holmes records that his brother, Mycroft, was “ one of the founders” of the Diogenes club.[104]  In Buchan's The Half Hearted  (1900)[105]  there is the suggestion that decisions on foreign policy were made over coffee on polished mahogany tables at the club, bringing out a gazetteer from the Chippendale cabinet in the confines of a private library to decide from which area the next threat to the home country was emanating.  The Athenaeum club provided an opportunity, as well as of poring over maps and reference books, of reading the newspapers of the day.  Although used as a setting for the fiction occasionally, they were, nevertheless, a frequent venue for the writing of adventure fiction, reflecting as they did male chauvinism, masculinity in its exclusive role; and, importantly, the exclusion of women.

     James enjoyed membership of a number of prestigious London clubs.  In 1878 he was elected to membership of the Reform and he, too, joined the Athenaeum under rule II in 1882 and counted honorary membership of the Savile, the Traveller`s and the St. James's among his club memberships.  Montgomery Hyde explains in Henry James at Home how:


he would repair to dinner after a hard day's writing in his lodgings, an additional advantage, since the dinner was "good and cheap" in comparison with London restaurants whose badness is literally fabulous.  For Henry the Athenæum was "the last word of a high civilisation.[106]


Writers' clubs of the period, often referred to in secondary texts, included the Omar Khayam, the Athenaeum, the New Vagabonds, the Rhymers, the Savile and the Rabelais organised by Walter Besant in 1880, and included George Du Maurier, Thomas Hardy, Bret Harte, Oliver Wendell Holmes, [later United States Attorney General] Henry Irving, James, James Payn [author of "By Proxy" (1883) and "High Spirits" (1884)] and Stevenson amongst its clientele.  The gentleman's club was a distinct type of aristocratic heartland for men that has its origins in late eighteenth century squirearchy and developed into the middle twentieth century as the decided home of the establishment; military, civil service, clerical, diplomatic, colonial, cultural, artistic, and sporting.

     The distinctive kind of literariness of the period, with its greater attention to books, indicates that bookishness in the genre was, perhaps, a way of life; life as a literary journey recorded in The Bookman and Longman’s Magazine in which Andrew Lang published 1,920 quarto pages in the 80s and early 90s.  For many years he contributed to "At the Sign of the Ship" and "At the Sign of St. Paul's," its sequel in the Illustrated London News.  By the time Longman’s Magazine ceased publication in the 90s, Lang had already contributed 250 short pieces between 1891 and 1896, and a weekly "chat-line", "From a Scottish Workshop", during most of 1896.  There is a clearly enunciated literariness about this journal, where there is an unusual emphasis on books, authors and bookmen, with its quaint "Letters to Dead Authors" which purported to be imaginary correspondence with characters in contemporaneous works of fiction, or perhaps, conversations between, say, Sir Isaac Walton and the characters in The Pilgrim's  ProgressBlackwoods magazine, popularly known as Maga, a magazine specialising in, among other non-fictional topics, adventure fiction for men, was issued as a journal available to late-Victorians to which Lang contributed various "yarns".  Conrad liked the idea of its readership in clubs and officers' messes, because possibly he saw such locales as settings for the telling of masculine adventures.[107]

     Members of both literary clubs, the Savile and the Piccadilly, included Henley, Henry Butcher, Lang, Haggard, Stevenson, Kipling and James, but not Wilde.  Wilde had been sponsored for membership of the Savile but was blackballed, that is prevented from joining by a ballot of members by placing a black ball instead of a white one in the sack for the votes.  James insisted that he was not one of his friends, although it was James who had sponsored Wilde for membership.[108]

     C. S. Lewis has also characterised the shared professional ethos, and the directions in which it can branch, when he speaks of "that gang" or "They" or "So and so and his set" or "the Caucus" or "the Inner Ring".[109]  Referring to Kipling, he comments that these rings were set up so that the "Little Tin Gods (long may their Highnesses thrive!) may keep their circle intact".[110]  In a chapter on Kipling he states, "What he loves better than anything in the world is the intimacy within a closed circle", and Lewis declares that Kipling "is the slave of the inner ring".[111]  Such categories are, it is supposed, essential to the well-being of societies and are immediately recognisable to insiders.  Late-Victorian fiction is full of such inner rings and of the attempts of fictional characters to penetrate them, only to discover that they consist, after all, only of people.[112]  Perhaps John Buchan was the most adept at investing his characters like Richard Hannay[113]  with such fictional discoveries.  The model for Richard Hannay in The Thirty-Nine Steps (1915) was Ironside, the soldier whom Buchan had once met in South Africa.  Hannay is the peaceful civilian who is drawn into adventure by accident but in this case, paradoxically, these inner circles emerge as representative of the forces of evil and disorder.

     Henley was a generous and encouraging editor and, as someone who was not an aristocrat with ample means, he expected to advance the commercial aspect of

a relationship.  He was, as a publisher, author and editor, on exactly the same sell / buy relationship with one person as any other.  There is, in the words of W. B. Yeats, a suggestion of Henley's secret life; a life of the literary salons.  He recounts how Henley:


alarmed me and impressed me exactly as he did those others who were called Henley's young men, and even today [when I meet] some one among them, showing perhaps the first sign of age, we recognise at once the bond.  We have as it were a secret in common: that we have known a man whose powers no others can know because it has not found expression in words.  I have never cared for anything in Henley's poetry except those early gay verses in the measure of Villon, and I know that their charm was the image of that other man's face.[114]


It is perhaps possible to suppose that the powers which were inexpressible were ones which were capable of exhibiting love and affection.  The "gay verses" to which he refers definitely do not have the same connotation of homosexuality  which it might be possible to put upon them today.  Taken in juxtaposition with the phrase "Henley's young men", "secrets in common" and "the bond", and read in the context of the late-Victorian homosexual sub-culture, however, it is possible to read this passage as homoerotic in both its tone and content.  The continual reference to eroticism and the "heated" nature of the correspondence does lead one to suppose that the writers under consideration formed a homosexual group who moved in the clubs and clubland of late-Victorian Britain, membership of which was a clue to their literary and social endeavours.

     Patronage was all part of the `Boy' ethos of late nineteenth century public life as exemplified by figures like Cecil Rhodes who was, if Martin Seymour-Smith's account is credible,[115]  a repressed homosexual whom Charles Carrington, Haggard's biographer, called a man "unmoved by women".[116]  Seymour Smith refers also to John Ruskin as a homosexual whom Kipling championed and patronised in Stalky & Co.,[117]  and Seymour Smith makes similar points about

Rudyard Kipling himself who was, he says,  "genitally homosexual in his proclivities."[118]  These were men who used their sense of sexual camaraderie in coteries for the purposes of bestowing and receiving favours.  There can be little doubt, even if Seymour-Smith exaggerates, that the striking features of late-Victorian adventure fiction were the focusing of its emotions on, and the homoerotic featuring of boys and the public school.  It was a fiction which engaged in a rhetoric of male chauvinism and paternalism with its romantic assertions of masculinity in terms of primitive strength, but which began to show from 1900 an anxiety about the next generation of men after the disastrous defeats of the Boer War.



Instructing Boys in Masculinity


It may be asked why the emphasis in much of the fiction appears to be upon the male in a male clubland.  There is in the fiction of empire an apparent pressure to portray and explain boyhood and nascent masculinity as mutually inclusive and of equivalent value.  Here we can observe definitions of sexual behaviour as appropriate to the conventionally accepted constructions of masculinity, defining acceptable hero images of the kind valued in male orientated clublands, praising a work ethic and claiming superiority over social and cultural inferiors, and most importantly over women.

     The notion of attempting to instruct boys in masculinity is to be seen as part of the changing pattern of attitudes in late-Victorian times to sexual difference: changes which led to a diminution of patriarchy and gender discrimination.  It was John Ruskin who appeared to reinforce existing codes of masculinity and femininity in his lecture delivered at the Exhibition Palace, Dublin, entitled “The Mystery of Life and its Arts” and published under the general title of Sesame and Lilies,[119]  where he observed and studied children at play in a garden: "And the children were happy for a while, but presently they separated themselves into parties; and then each party declared it would have a piece of the garden for its own, and that none of the others should have anything to do with that piece."

     "Next", he continued, "they quarrelled violently which pieces they would have; and at last the boys took up the thing," and then he reveals a more sexist position: "as boys should do, practically, and fought in the flower beds till there was hardly a flower left standing; then they trampled down each other's bits of the garden out of spite".  And then follows a revealing statement: "and the girls cried till they could cry no more; and so they all lay down at last breathless in the ruin, and waited for the time to be taken home in the evening."[120]  Ruskin's suggestion is that there exists a difference between the genders whereby girls are incapable of emotional control, but that boys are naturally inclined to aggressive behaviour, and that, he comments, is right and as it should be.  However, this was the period prior to the First World War when gender stratification was greater than it was subsequently to become.

     Such were the accepted norms of behaviour for boys and for girls which were codified into adventure literature by authors who, like the masters in John Betjeman's nostalgic prose poem Summoned by Bells, were still "big boys at heart."[121]  In life, boys were expected to trample and contend for kingdoms, as Ruskin explained in his note to the piece, and girls, it would seem, were supposed to adhere to stereotypes of emotionalism and petulance.  More specifically, Ruskin defined man's power as "active, progressive, defensive.  He is eminently the doer, the creator, the discoverer, the defender.  His intellect is for speculation and invention, his energies for adventures, for war and for conquest."[122]

     Fictively, boys were the achievers and girls the non - achievers.  Boys were rugged and hardy and especially adventurous, while girls were sensitive and easily given to sobbing, stay-at-homes.  The athleticism which these boys displayed on the rugby field and the cricket pitch was symptomatic of their general fitness, strength and team spirit.  The progression to Oxbridge and the Army was the natural step in their evolution into “little imperialists”.  Exclusive male groups such as the public schools which figure so largely in this literature produced rituals and loyalties which generated male bonding at various emotional levels and they are described often enough in the genre.

     As the historian John Boswell explained in his Christianity, "boy" was the euphemistic Victorian codeword for the male lover as "lad" was in A. E. Housman's generation.[123]  For Housman, death is the neatest solution to the 'medical' problem of male love.  As he advised in A Shropshire Lad:


Shot? so quick, so clean an ending

Oh that was right, lad, that was brave: Yours was not an ill for mending,

'Twas best to take it to the grave.[124]


     Conan Doyle, too, satisfied himself that he had achieved what he had set out to do in the field of fictive boyhood in his epigraph to the story entitled  The  Lost  World:


I have wrought my simple plan

If I give one hour of joy

To the boy who's half a man

And the man who's half a boy.[125]


The boy-man image is a strong feature of the homoerotic fiction of adventure and quest.  Bram Stoker too, points up this relativism:


the ideal man is entirely or almost entirely masculine and the ideal woman is entirely or almost entirely feminine.  Each individual must have a preponderance, be it ever so little, of the cells of its own sex, and the attraction of each individual to the other depends upon its place on the scale between the highest and lowest grade of sex.  The most masculine man draws the most feminine woman, and vice versa; and so down the scale till close to the borderline in the great mass of persons, who, having only developed a few of the qualities of sex, are easily satisfied to mate with anyone.[126]

This concept of hyper-masculinity is hard to distinguish from that portrayed in imperial homoerotic fiction.  What were seen by many as the moral and physical beauty of athleticism[127]  and the Spartan ideal of stoicism, whose allegedly salutary effects are still promoted by many, may well have been the virtues which the public schools identified as characterising the imperial attitude.  These were the character-forming powers that made males ready for imperial service and informed the boys' literature of the late nineteenth century.

     Such formative powers were explained by Reverend Edward Thring, Headmaster of Uppingham school, as: "The learning to be responsible and independent, to bear pain, to play the game, to drop rank, and wealth, and home luxury."[128]  He declared enthusiastically that, "it is this which has made the English such an adventurous race; and that with all their faults... the public schools are the cause of this `manliness'".[129]

     Dr. Almond of Loretto school, Edinburgh, delivered a sermon entitled "The Conservation of the Body" in Christ the  Protestant and other Sermons (1899)[130]  His concept of the upright public schoolboy produced by public schools in Britain such as his was:


wholesome and manly, carrying the hammer of the cross to distant lands, and with strong arm, iron will and earnest purpose winning Christian victories among the natives.


There was an important correlation to be seen between success in the public schools and in the imperial adventure.  The influence upon Thomas Hughes of Dr Arnold of Rugby is reflected in the writing of Hughes's public school novel Tom Brown's Schooldays (1857)[131]  to some degree, although David Newsome has suggested in Godliness and Good Learning that there was little contact between the schoolboy Hughes and the headmaster,[132]  if there can be shown to be a connection between the actual lives of the boys and their future counterparts, which is difficult. 

     The headmaster in the novel goes away to the Lake District on one of the most important occasions in the life of the school, such as the house cricket match, which tends to support the idea of a distance between Thomas Hughes and the headmaster.  Hughes was not reputed to be particularly clever or outstandingly religious at school, and he did not obtain the most intellectual of educations in Rugby, but he succeeded in writing a novel which has been effective in reinforcing dominant codes of masculinity to be seen in any study of discourses of manliness, if not for insights into the intensity of an all-male society, then for its portrayal of a system of education which deprived children of what was the supposedly normal love and affection of their family home for the allegedly Spartan advantages of public school life.  The Victorian public schoolboy was nursed by his nanny for some time before he entered the school, and the absence of feminine influences in term-time affected his emotional development and progress during adolescence.[133]  Tom Brown's Schooldays brought home to many Victorian families the realities of boarding school education, and pointed to the benefits to be gained by attendance at a boarding school, in terms of social preferment and career opportunities.  It reinforced ideas of male supremacy in all-male institutions such as the army, the civil service and the gentleman's club which were the next step in the progression of the British aristocracy in the late 1880s, were formative institutions in the construction of late-Victorian masculinities, and could perhaps explain the prevalence of male bonding.

     If, in fact, the Victorian family homes were havens of non-normative activity and many parents perhaps cultivated distance from their children, then it is important where and how they received cultural messages about such behaviour and how, and by which agencies, they sublimated desires for emotional normality.  There may or may not have been difficulties for people in late-Victorian times in the display of affection between family members.  It is possible that paterfamilias considered it necessary to establish a distance in their relationships, but there were domestic displays of affection shown between members of the same family.  And it may be possible to show that there was a domestication of life in the families of the authors whom we examine. 

      Haggard's maternal grandson, Commander Cheyne, reported in a speech given to the Rider Haggard Festival in May 1999 that Haggard addressed him jokingly with the remarks that "You eat like a pig, you can't tie up your own shoelaces, you can't tell the time and you don't know the Lord's Prayer..."  However, it is fair to add that his grandson commented that " was all said with a kindly glint in his eye".  Indeed, Commander Cheyne remembered his grandfather with affection: "...I have always had and still have a tremendous affection and admiration for him",[134]  he told his audience.  It may seem strange that such memories as these are based on recollections of apparently harsh and unemotional comments by a grandfather, but it was common among late-Victorian grandparents to appear stern and lofty in their manner without really relinquishing the affection and love of a grandparent.  Indeed, Commander Cheyne, commenting on the present author’s repetition to him of a quotation about the "imprecation after imprecation" that was "heaped upon" Haggard by his father [see above], countered by saying that his grandfather did not “follow this course of action upon me”[135] 

      There was a domestication of life in the late-Victorian period that some commentators have been loathe to recognise.  Many articles in Girls’ Annuals of the late-Victorian period focus on the domestic skills that would be demanded of girl readers in their adulthood.  On examining girls’ magazines of the time, such as the weekly edition of The Girl’s Own Paper,[136]  there appear many articles of a domestic nature –— from how to create fashionable hairstyles to cookery recipes, patterns and instructions for knitting, embroidery, dressmaking and practical homemaking.  This suggests that domesticity was the aim of many young girls and women in the period, but it conflicts entirely with the type of adventure story for boys that we have been examining.

      The masculine novel of action of the period is one such medium replete with the sensitivity towards male sexuality which is a key symbol of the male literature, and perhaps made it so popular.  It is a genre that encourages the use of erotic imagery and focuses largely on boys, and yet disguises sexuality under a barrage of words whose meanings carry a barely concealed sexual signification.

      The scope of the last two parts, then, taken to include many aspects of male desire, and its literary expression in the genre of homosexual fiction written at the heart of patriarchy, has included masculine activities in club lands, the burgeoning world of juvenile literature, the clubs and clubland ethos of the period, the reviewers and the journalists, dedications, patronage and privilege, and has looked into clubland sites where men could operate exclusively.  At every turn there is an expression of the exclusivity of these domains available only to men and boys, and to the exclusion of girls and women.  The late-Victorian world was one where gender issues were already highly polarised.  At the same time men sought an escape into worlds in which they could engage in epic fiction, in collaboration, referring to adventure and quests as a metaphor for sexual activities.  There can be little doubt that the work in question in this study is replete with images of male sexuality, and with ideas and preferences from an era in which the question of the sexual orientation of those who collaborated was bounded by regulation and prejudice at every turn and circumscribed by issues of contemporary culture.

     The collaborative romance fiction, whilst promoting the sense that men could work together to produce male orientated fiction, extolled the idea of male bonding which was reflected in the books, letters and publications of the period.  Men, at the time, felt a loss of their masculine identities and used the coteries to be found in clubs and the "boy" ethos of masculinity to recover from their loss of power.  It was an attempt by men to escape from the increasing domesticity and femininity, and the emasculation of their powers, engendered by the increasing sense of respectability and the changing role of, and tensions within, the family, that they were experiencing in Victorian society.  There were also concerns about the way in which men's relation to male power in patriarchy was affected in terms of, for example, class and relations between males and the cultural institutions of male dominance.

     When Holden in Without Benefit of Clergy[137]  retires to his club to “pull himself together” it is clear that the club was a place where a gentleman of the upper class could install himself comfortably for a while, separate from women, whose membership was not allowed, and where he could focus upon the male activities — Empire, writing of Empire — that were offered there.  Quatermain, too, was often at his London club where he could concentrate on thinking about his class, his peers, his country, his adventures and his male life, untrestrained by the domesticity from which he was escaping.[138]  And when Mycroft Holmes withdraws to the confines of his club’s dining room for aperitifs, it is a time for consolidation within the male centre of power, influence and patriarchy — a place where men could unite to regroup themselves, away from the feminising influences of their counterparts of the other gender; where they could bond together and produce the adventure romance of Empire and quest.





[1]  Haggard and Lang, The World’s Desire (London: Macmillan, 1890).

[2]  Letter dated 28 March 1885.

[3]  Andrew Lang, Old Friends: Essays in Epistolary Parody [Reprinted from  St. James' Gazette] (London: Longmans, 1890).

[4]  Ms. letter from Lang to Haggard.  Norfolk Record Office.  No date.

 [5]  Letter dated 30 April, 1920.

[6]  Haggard, The Days of My Life, Vol. II.  72, 80.

[7]  Andrew Lang, Saturday Review LX (10 October 1885): 485-6.

[8]  Lang to Haggard, Lockwood Collection, University of Buffalo, 2 June 1897. Lockwood Memorial Library, State University of New York at Buffalo.

[9]  Lang to Haggard, Lockwood Collection, 1 January 1897.

[10]  Haggard, She, 221.

[11]  Lang to Haggard. Roger Lancelyn Green, Andrew Lang: A Critical Biography with a short Bibliography (Leicester:  E. Ward, 1946) 120.

[12]  Lang to Haggard, undated.  Cohen, Rider Haggard, 184.

[13]  Cohen, Rider Haggard, 85.

[14]  ibid.

[15]  Rider Haggard, Wisdom's Daughter, The Life and Love Story of She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed (London: Hutchinson, 1923).

[16]  Northrop Frye, Anatomy of Criticism: Four Essays (Princeton University Press, 1957) 75.

[17]  Laura Chrisman, "The Imperial Unconscious?  Representations of Imperial Discourse" Critical Quarterly, Vol. 2. No. 3. Autumn, 1990: 48.

[18]  Lang to Haggard, 1 February, 1886, Lockwood Collection, Lockwood Memorial University Library, University of Buffalo.  All subsequent references to letters from Lang to Haggard in this chapter are from the Lockwood collection.

[19]  Letter Lang to Haggard, 1 February 1886. 

[20]  ibid.

[21]  Lang, letter to Haggard, 24 July 1886.

[22]  Three letters from Lang to Haggard on 22, 24 and 25 July 1886.

[23]  See Haggard, The Days of My Life, II 5.

[24]  Lang, Academy XXXI (15 January 1887): 93, 94.

[25]  Anonymous review, Athenæum LXXIX (15 January 1887).

[26]  W. E. Henley, Academy 12 February 1887; Anonymous review The Critic X (12 February 1887).

[27]  Rider Haggard, She  (New York: Dover Publications, 1951) 230.

[28]  Haggard, She, 78.

[29]  ibid.

[30]  Haggard, She, 110.

[31]  Rider Haggard, Ayesha (1905)  (London and Glasgow: Collins, 1957).

[32]  Carl Jung, trans. Stanley M. Dell, The Integration of the Personality (London: Kegan Paul, 1940) 24, 78-80.  See Carl Jung, Sir Herbert Read, Michael Fordham, Gerald Adler, eds. trans. R.F.C. Hull, The Collected Works of Carl Jung (London: Routledge, Kegan Paul, 1958).

[33]  For Ann and Barry Ulanov, if a man tends to project all the power of his anima onto a woman, resisting the effort to study it in himself, he may find that he turns her image into that of a witch  Transforming Sexuality: The Archetypal World of Anima and Animus (London: Shambhala Publications, 1994) 91.

[34]  Lilias Haggard, The Cloak that I Left, A Biography of the Author Henry Rider Haggard  (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1951) 31.

[35]  Laura Chrisman, "The Imperial Unconscious?  Representations of Imperial Discourse" Critical Quarterly, Vol 2. No 3. Autumn, 1990: 48.

[36]  Haggard, She, 238.

[37] Haggard, She, 238.

[38]  For references to the use of the terminology of prostitution, see Michael Mason, The Making of Victorian Sexual Attitudes (Oxford University Press, 1994) 63-115.  See Roger Lancelyn Green, Andrew Lang  (Leicester: E. Ward, 1946) 123.

39  Lang to Haggard with poem entitled Twosh.  Green, Andrew Lang, 113.

[40]  Dylan Thomas, Under Milk Wood: A Play for Voices (London: Dent, 1956).

[41]  Green, Andrew Lang, 146

[42]  Green, Andrew Lang, ix.

 [43]  See plate photograph reproduced in Peter Beresford Ellis, Rider Haggard: A Voice from the Infinite (London: Routledge, Kegan Paul, 1978) opp. 146.

[44]  Andrew Lang, "At the Sign of the Ship", Longman's Magazine, Vol 11. (London: Longmans, Green, 1888) 574. 

[45]  See S. H. Butcher and A. Lang, Homer: The Odyssey of Homer.  Done into English Prose (London: Macmillan,1879) 1-416, with a Preface by Lang,  viii.  Lang collaborated with S. H. Butcher (1850-1910) on a translation of The Odyssey during 1879.

[46]  Lang, quoted in Rider Haggard, The Days of My Life Vol. II  ed. C. J. Longman, (London: Longmans, Green, 1926) 75.

 [47] Green, Andrew Lang, 136.

[48]  Lang to Haggard.  Undated letter.  Lockwood Collection.

[49]  Lang to Haggard.  Letter dated 7 August, 1890.  Quoted in Cohen, Rider Haggard, 187.

[50]  The reference to "two pairs of peepers" appears in a letter from Lang to Haggard 4 October 1890.  Lockwood Collection.

[51]  Rider Haggard, Eric Brighteyes (London: Longmans, Green, 1891).  The work is written in the saga style and was reputedly the preferred novel of the Prince of Wales.  Rider Haggard, The Days of My Life  (London: Longman, 1926).

[52]  Haggard to Lang, March 11 1889.  Quoted in Morton Cohen, Rider Haggard: His Life and Work 2nd. ed. (London: Hutchinson, 1960) 102.

[53]  Letter dated "October 13th", Quoted in Cohen, Rider Haggard, 102.

[54]  ibid.

[55]  Roger Lancelyn Green in his account is unable to give precise details for he writes "Lang seldom dated his letters, and to mention the year, is with him, almost unique."  He dates the letter, which is from Italy, March 1888.  (Green, Andrew Lang, 125).

[56]  Letter from Italy, Lang to Haggard, March 1888.

[57]  Lang to Haggard, 11 October 1888.  Norfolk Record Office collection.

[58]  Norfolk Record Office, Norwich. Haggard  Ms. No. 18.

[59]  ibid.

[60]  ibid.

[61]  ibid.

[62]  Poems evincing resonances of classical epic such as Tennyson's "To Ulysses" (1889) are noteworthy.  Christopher Ricks, The Poems of Tennyson (London: Longmans, 1969) 1,396.  Tennyson's praise of Ulysses is a similar poem to the one quoted which extols masculinity, and shows admiration for former classical heroes.

[63]  Haggard and Lang, The World's Desire, 15.

[64]  Haggard and Lang, The World's Desire, 243.

[65]  Wayne Koestenbaum's highly fetched Double Talk is an interesting, but unconvincing attempt to relate the doubled nature of Lang and Haggard to actual texts.  It concentrates on vocabulary rather than criticism.  Wayne Koestenbaum, Double Talk, The Erotics of Male Fiction (London: Routledge, 1989) 159.

[66]  Haggard and Lang, The World's Desire, 245.

[67]  Cohen, RiderHaggard, 102.

[68]  Michel Foucault, Trans. Robert Hurley, A History of Sexuality Vol. 3. The Care of the Self  (New York: 1985; London: Lane, 1973; Penguin, 1988) 125.

[69]  Pamela Norris, The Story of Eve (London: Picador, 1998).

[70]  Haggard and Lang, The World's Desire, 177.

[71]  Misogyny, the modus operandi of the romance writers, is examined in some detail later in the chapter.  See Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar, "Heart of Darkness: The Agon of the Femme Fatale" in Sexchanges. No Man's Land: The Place of the Woman Writer in the Twentieth Century (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1989).

[72]  S. Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams (London and New York: 1955). Standard ed.  4-5.

[73]  Haggard and Lang, The World's Desire, 140.

[74]  According to Peter Schwenger, in James Joyce's Ulysses there is the use of two adjacent styles in the Nausicaa episodes - tumescence and detumescence.  Similarly Hemingway in Death in the Afternoon comments on what he terms "erectile writing".  See Peter Schwenger, Phallic Critiques: Masculinity and Twentieth Century Literature (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1984).

[75]  Haggard was, in his early life, an ostrich farmer in Natal.  A recent study has dealt with his agricultural surveys, activities for the resettlement of soldiers and farmers, attendance on committees, that is, as a servant of empire.  See Tom Pocock, Rider Haggard and the Lost Empire (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1993).

[76]  Haggard and Lang, The World's Desire, 90.

[77]  Rider Haggard, She and Allan (London: Hutchinson, 1921) 284.

[78]  Haggard, She and Allan, 284.  See also "Smith and the Pharaohs" Strand Magazine, February 1913.

[79]  Haggard, The Days of My Life,  II 172.

[80]  Haggard, The Days of My Life,  I 17.

[81]  Robert Louis Stevenson, in Haggard, The Days of My Life, 26.

[82]  Andrew Lang, inscription in a presentation copy of the book. 1890.  Norwich Register Office Collection.

[83]  Lang, letter March 12 1889.  Green, Andrew Lang, 128.

[84]  Andrew Lang, undated letter quoted by Green, Andrew Lang, 128, 129.

[85]  Allan Quatermain, in the introductory dedication to Haggard, King Solomon's Mines, i.

[86]  Buchan's dedication to Lionel Phillips in Prester John.  John Buchan, Prester John (Edinburgh: Nelson, 1925) i.

[87]  For information on the psychology of adult games see Eric Berne, Games People Play: The Psychology of Human Relationships (London: Faber and Faber, 1966) 173.  John Spanier, Games Nations Play (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Wilson, 1984).

[88]  Oscar Wilde, Isobel Murray ed., The Picture of Dorian Gray (Oxford University Press, 1981).  See William A. Cohen, Sex Scandal: The Private Parts of Victorian Fiction (Durham: Duke University Press, 1996) 191.

[89]  Henley, Lyra Heroica, vii.

[90]  Lang, dedication to In the Wrong Paradise, ii.

[91]  Alfred Tennyson, Christopher Ricks, (ed.) "To Ulysses", The Poems of Tennyson (London:  Longmans, 1969) 423 1,396.

[92] Dedication to S. Lloyd Osbourne in Robert Louis Stevenson, Emma Letley ed. Treasure Island The World’s Classics (Oxford University Press, 1985); (London: 1883).

[93]  Joseph Conrad, Owen Knowles ed., Almayer's Folly: A Story of an Eastern River (London: Dent, 1996) 1.

[94]  One of the few allusions to the teashops of the late-Victorian period which seems to confirm their authenticity occurs in The Boy's Own Paper, the first number of which was published by Beeton in 1879.  See Michael Harrison, In the Footsteps of Sherlock Holmes (London: Cassell, 1958) 28.

[95]  See J. M. MacKenzie,  Imperialism and Popular Culture (Manchester University Press, 1987).

[96]  Aytoun Ellis, Penny Universities, A History of the Coffee Houses  (London: Secker and Warburg, 1956) 227.

[97] Angus Wilson, The Strange Ride of Rudyard Kipling: his life and works  (London: Secker and Warburg, 1977) 142-43.

[98]  Letter to Dr. Conland 25 to 29 March 1897.  Houghton Library.

[99]Letter to Stanley Weyman, quoted in Kipling Journal 144 (1962).

[100]  Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway  (London: Hogarth Press, 1925) 103, 104.

[101]  Conan Doyle, ‘The Greek Interpreter’, 437.

[102]  Doyle, The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, ‘The Greek Interpreter’ 436, quoted in Philip A. Shreffer, The Baker Street Reader (London: Greenwood Press, 1984) 78.

[103]  Conan Doyle, ‘The Greek Interpreter’, 436.

[104]  ibid.

[105]  John Buchan, The Half Hearted (London: Isbister, 1900).

[106]  Montgomery Hyde, Henry James at Home (London: Methuen, 1969).

[107]  Jocelyn Barnes, Joseph Conrad: A Critical Biography (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1960) 213.

[108]  Richard Ellmann, Oscar Wilde (London: Penguin Books, 1987) 170.

[109]  C. S. Lewis, They Asked for a Paper (London: Geoffrey Bles, 1962) 91.

[110]  Lewis, They Asked for a Paper, 76.

[111]  Lewis, They Asked for a Paper,  87.

[112]  ibid.

[113]  Buchan, The Thirty-Nine Steps. (London: Blackwood, 1915).

[114]  W. B. Yeats, Memoirs Autobiography First Draft Journal,  ed. Denis Donaghue (London: Papermac, 1972).

[115]  Martin Seymour -Smith, Kipling (London: Queen Anne Press, 1989).

[116]  Charles Carrington, Rudyard Kiping (London: Macmillan, 1955) 329.

[117]  Rudyard Kipling,  Stalky & Co. (London: 1914)  Stalky was modelled on Major-General Lionel Charles Dunsterville (1865-1946).  See R. Lancelyn Green ed., Kipling The Critical Heritage (London: Routledge, Kegan Paul, 1971) 371.

[118]  Seymour-Smith, Kipling, 105.

[119]  John Ruskin, "The Mystery of Life and its Arts" in Sesame and Lilies (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1919)  171, 172.  See Henry Ladd, The Victorian Morality of Art (New York: Octagon, 1968).

[120]  Ruskin, Sesame and Lilies quoted in John D. Rosenberg, The Genius of John Ruskin (London: Routledge, Kegan Paul, 1963).

[121]  John Betjeman, Summoned by Bells (London: J. Murray, 1960) 233.

[122]  Ruskin, Sesame and Lilies, 107.

[123]  John Boswell, Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the beginning of the Christian era to the fourteenth century. (University of Chicago Press, 1980.) 28 29.

[124]  A.E. Housman, A Shropshire Lad.  See A. E. Housman, Selections, Collected Poems and Selected Prose.  (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1961) 21.

[125]  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes detective romances, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The White Company and the story, ‘The Lost World’.

[126]  Bram Stoker, Dracula (London: Purnell, 1989).

[127]  D. Newsome, Godliness and Good Learning: Four Studies on a Victorian Ideal (London: Cassell, 1961).

[128]  Newsome, Godliness and Good Learning, 44.

[129]  Rev Edward Thring, Headmaster, Uppingham School quoted in Ronald Hyam, Empire and Sexuality: The British Experience (Manchester University Press, 1990).

[130]  Dr. Almond, Christ the Protestant and other Sermons (London: Blackwood, 1899) 150-151.

[131]  Thomas Hughes, Andrew Sanders ed., Tom Brown's Schooldays (Oxford University Press, 1989) 3.  Hughes referred to the work as "a real novel for boys."

[132]  The Headmaster of Rugby School was Thomas Arnold, the father of Matthew Arnold, author of A French Eton or Middle Class Education and the State (London: Macmillan, 1867).

[133]  Roper and Tosh, Manful Assertions, 3.

[134]  Commander M. E. Cheyne.  Speech to the Rider Haggard Festival raising funds for Ditchingham church.  14 May 1999. 1.  A copy of the text of the speech is in the possession of the present writer. Letter.  Commander M. E. Cheyne. 15 January 2000.

[135]  Letter.  Commander M. E. Cheyne to Geoffrey Clarke.  24 February 2000. 

[136]  Girl’s Own Paper, 3  January 1880.

[137]  Rudyard Kipling, ‘Without Benefit of Clergy’  Twenty-One Tales Selected from the Works of Rudyard Kipling 1865-1936  (London: Macmillan, 1946).

[138]  Richard Usborne, Clubland Heroes: A Nostalgic Study of Some Recurrent Characters in the Romantic Fiction of Dornford Yates (London: Barrie and Jenkins, 1974) 5.