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The Edward Carpenter Community
For men who love men

Who was Edward Carpenter?

1844 - 1929

Photo of Edward Carpenter


Edward Carpenter was a hugely influential socialist, critic, writer, poet, thinker, vegetarian, and mystic. Not so well known today, he was a pioneering supporter of many progressive causes we now take for granted, including women’s rights and sexual reform. His radically different lifestyle became a symbol of liberation from the oppressive middle class values of late Victorian England and his writings were an important contribution to the development of the English socialist movement and much later, to the gay liberation movement. He lived at Millthorpe, near Sheffield, with his lover, George Merrill (who inspired E M Forster to write his novel ‘Maurice’). Their home became a place of pilgrimage for his many admirers.

Our community chose to honour Carpenter by adopting his name in recognition of the strong resonance between his lifestyle and the shared values of the men who came together in the 1980s. We are not necessarily disciples of Carpenter, but our original Principles and Intentions were very much inspired by his life.


For more information about Edward Carpenter:

One of our members, Simon Dawson, has made a study of Carpenter's life, and his website at is a rich source of information and out-of-print writings.

Another member, Damien Rowse in New Zealand, has written a short biographical essay Edward Carpenter - British Father of Reclaiming Gay Consciousness

Cover of Sheila Rowbotham's book about Carpenter Sheila Rowbotham's acclaimed biography Edward Carpenter: A Life of Liberty and Love published in 2008, is an authoritative and detailed book exploring Carpenter’s life and thought in relation to the social, aesthetic and intellectual movements of his day.

The Friends of Edward Carpenter are a small group of people who are dedicated to establishing a permanent memorial to Edward Carpenter in Sheffield City Centre, recognising his historical and social importance and unique association with the city.


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