On Wednesday 18th October my partner Claire and I attended the Friends of Edward Carpenter launch event at The Crucible Theatre. The Friends of Edward Carpenter project is being managed by a voluntary committee, aiming to raise enough funds to erect a monument to Edward Carpenter in Sheffield by 2013.
I got to have a chat with the lovely staff from the Sheffield Archives service about my dissertation, and to see some of the Carpenter artefacts on display. Amongst the speakers at the event was BBC Sheffield’s Rony Robinson, discussing his personal connections with Carpenter’s legacy and how he was almost given a memorial in the 1980s. We were also treated to two numbers from local songsmith and folk artist Grace Petrie.
For anyone who doesn’t know about him, Edward Carpenter was an influential writer who pushed for gay rights (as well as other liberal ideas) at a time when it was very dangerous to do so. He lived near Sheffield at Millthorpe from the early 1880s until his death in 1929 with his partner George Merrill. In 1908 he wrote of same sex love in his book The Intermediate Sex.
Carpenter’s achievements in promoting progressive campaigns and ideas such as Socialism, Feminism, Vegetarianism and even clean air prove him to have been a significant part of Sheffield’s history and certainly Sheffield’s LGBT history.
If you would like to learn more about Edward Carpenter have a look at www.edwardcarpenterforum.org or to arrange a trip to see some of the wonderful artefacts held at the Sheffield Archives go to www.sheffield.gov.uk/libraries/archives-and-local-studies. To find out more on the Friends of Edward Carpenter group and to support their work on achieving a permanent monument to such an important figure go to www.friendsofedwardcarpenter.co.uk