From Wilde to Williams, five literary geniuses who represented the gay and lesbian communities.
Creative expression is an important part of any cultural group. People of all nationalities, genders, ages, and political affiliations find a way of expressing themselves through art, literature, music and dance. To that end, we'd like to take a moment to focus on a few LGBT authors from around the world, to highlight their lives and love stories, and the works that made them famous.
1. Oscar Wilde (Ireland, 1854-1900): One of the most famous Irish authors of his generation, Wilde made waves not just for his fabulous plays and novels, but for his incredible style of living. Known for his larger-than-life personality and talent with words, Wilde reigned over London society until his arrest and subsequent trial for "gross indecency", aka homosexual acts. The most famous of his affairs (the one for which he was put on trial when it became known) was with Lord Alfred Douglas, son of the Marquess of Queensberry. But while he lived freely and wrote, Wilde created works that remain celebrated to this day.
Notable works: Lady Windermere's Fan, An Ideal Husband, The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Importance of Being Earnest.
2. Tennessee Williams (USA, 1911-1983): This famed Southern playwright and novelist created some of the most well known works in American literature. Heavily influenced by his Southern upbringing, Williams' plays and novels focused largely on dysfunctional families (much like the one he was raised in). Williams was known to have embraced and accepted his sexuality around the 1930s, and went on to have several love affairs. The longest of his relationships was with Frank Merlo. Lasting 14 years, they remained friends even after the relationship ended.
Notable works: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, A Streetcar Named Desire, The Glass Menagerie.
3. Marcel Proust (France, 1871-1922): The master behind In Search of Lost Time, Proust burned quickly and brightly. Though he remained in the closet, the writer Lucien Daudet and composer Reynaldo Hahn were counted among his lovers. Nevertheless, Proust became one of the first among Europe's literati to display homosexuality openly in his works.
Notable works: In Search of Lost Time (aka, Remembrance of Things Past), Pastiches and Mixtures, Against Sainte-Beuve.
4. Tim Conigrave (Australia, 1959-1994): This Australian actor and author, who posthumously won the United Nations Award for Non-Fiction, spent his short life devoted to creativity. His 15-year-long relationship with John Caleo influenced his most well known work, the autobiographical Holding the Man, which was published a few short months after his death.
Notable works: Holding the Man
5. Virginia Woolf (England, 1882-1941): One of the leading Modernists of London literary circles, Woolf left an imprint on Western literature that can never be replicated. A part of the famed Bloomsbury Group of writers and artists, Woolf founded a literary press with her husband while writing trailblazing novels. In 1922 she met and began an affair with Vita Sackville-West, the wife of the diplomat Harold Nicolson. This affair was said to have heavily influenced her 1928 work Orlando.
Notable works: Mrs Dalloway, Orlando, To the Lighthouse.
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