Male Homosexuality in Children’s Literature, 1867-1918 : The Young Uranians book cover
1st Edition

Male Homosexuality in Children’s Literature, 1867-1918
The Young Uranians

  • Available for pre-order on June 2, 2023. Item will ship after June 23, 2023
ISBN 9781032441122
June 23, 2023 Forthcoming by Routledge
264 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations

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USD $170.00

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Book Description

In his 1908 cultural and historical study of homosexuality titled The Intersexes: A History of Similisexualism as a Problem in Social Life (1908), Edward Irenæus Prime-Stevenson includes a section on homosexual juvenile fiction, perhaps the first attempt to identify a body of children’s literature about male homosexuality in English. Known for pioneering the explicitly gay American novel for adults, Stevenson was also one of the first thinkers to take seriously the possibility and value of homosexual children, whom he called "young Uranians." This book takes as its starting point Stevenson’s catalog of homosexual boy books around the turn of the century and offers a critical examination of these works, along with others by gay writers who wrote for children from the mid-nineteenth century through the end of World War I. Stevenson’s list includes Eduard Bertz, Howard Sturgis, Horace Vachell, and Stevenson himself—to which Horatio Alger, John Gambril Nicholson, and E.F. Benson are added. Read alongside major developments in English- and German-language sexology, these boy books can be understood as participating in the construction and dissemination of the discourse of sexuality and as constituting the figure of the young Uranian as central to modern gay identity.

Table of Contents

List of Figures


Introduction Uncovering the Early History of Gay Children’s Literature

Chapter 1 New York City and the Proto-Uranian Street Boys of Alger’s Ragged Dick Series

Chapter 2 Boys as Noble Uranians: Eduard Bertz’s The French Prisoners and the Discourse of Sexology

Chapter 3 Suicide, Self-Sacrifice, and Uranian Schoolboys in Howard Sturgis’s Tim

and Horace Vachell’s The Hill

Chapter 4 Between Boys: Coding Young Uranians in Edward Prime-Stevenson’s

Left to Themselves and White Cockades

Chapter 5 The Adult Tutor and the Young Uranian: Greek Love in John Gambril

Nicholson’s In Carrington’s Duty-Week and The Romance of a Choir Boy

Chapter 6 E.F. Benson’s David Blaize Books and Boys as the "Third Sex"

Conclusion "The Future May be Trusted to Decide": Boy Books and the Possibilities

of Gay Children’s Literature

Works Cited




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Eric L. Tribunella, Professor of English, teaches children’s and young adult literature and gay studies at the University of Southern Mississippi. He is the author of Melancholia and Maturation: The Use of Trauma in American Children’s Literature (U. of Tennessee Press, 2010), the co-author of Reading Children’s Literature: A Critical Introduction (Broadview, 2013/2019), and the co-editor of A de Grummond Primer: Highlights of the Children’s Literature Collection (UP of Mississippi, 2021). He edited a critical edition of Edward Prime-Stevenson’s 1891 boys’ novel Left to Themselves (Valancourt, 2016), and among his various journal articles and book chapters, he contributed the essay on children’s literature and childhood studies to the Cambridge History of Gay and Lesbian Literature (Cambridge UP, 2014).