Sunday, January 6, 2019

"Despised and Rejected": Pacifism and "abnormality" in a 1918 novel

The Times, October 11, 1918, p.5
A "pacifist pamphlet in the disguise of a novel"- Prosecution
From a previous post on this blog
RaHN note: Lives of the First World War includes Conscientious Objectors (as listed on thePearce Register) but so far a search using the keyword 'homosexual' finds just one record among 17,426 COs, that of Scottish writer Edward Gaitens, 1897-1966 (born 120 years ago this month), who was sentenced to two years in Wormwood Scrubs and wrote of his experiences there in his 1948 novel Dance of the ApprenticesEvidently there is work to be done on LGBT opposition to the war.

Extract from
A T Fitzroy, Despised and Rejected.
(pseudonym of Rose Allatini) whose central characters are a gay conscientious objector and his lesbian/bisexual anti-war woman friend. This was originally published by CW Daniel in 1918 before being banned under DORA [Defence of the Realm Act], and was reprinted by Gay Men’s Press in the 1980s, and again quite recently by a small US press. It appears to be out of print, but there [are/were] extracts on google books and Amazon.
This brief notice, dating from 2014, indicates the significance of the novel, and the fact that it had not been forgotten. It has now been published in an excellent new edition, as below.

Despised and Rejected, by Rose Allatini, writing as A T Fitzroy. (London, C W Daniel Ltd, 1918). Persephone Books, 2018.

Some notes and comments roughly grouped by theme

(Quotes are paraphrases rather than necessarily exact)

(Part 1): Family, 'nature', setting

Main male protagonist -

p.8  [Mother:] We could never get Dennis to play with soldiers or seamen or any of the usual toys. His father used to get quite angry... 
-9 Of course as long as he's happy 
-10 Son whose psychology did not seem to present the facilities of the "open book".

p.22 'These new-fangled London young men'.
Disliked his father... coarse over-bearing masculinity. Fundamental antagonism.  
-23 Whole world that must remain secret.

p.71 Terrified of musical gift; different from the other boys.
Perpetual war against a part of one's own self.
(School) Eric: Jewish boy, appallingly sensitive, had a rotten time of it... dared not let self get fond of E.

110  Forever an outcast amongst men.
136  Ceaseless internal wars of his own nature.

100 Forever an outcast amongst men.

Main female protagonist -

p.61 Antoinette 'free from least taint of morbidity, unaware that there was aught of unusual about her attitude'. -62 dictates of her inmost nature.

Social/political awareness

p.93 Coal-mining: every lump soaked in human blood. 
-94 'socialist-talk'. Finding out from the inside.    

(Part 2) War and opposition

p.142 The term 'Hun'in these early days of the war had not yet become incorporated into the language.

143  [Enlisting] generally with a sensation of taking part in a picturesque pageant.
[Town] ... with a tolerance and forbearance that it was later to lose.
Protest - a certain right to be 'peculiar'.

144 Whole thing damnable,stupid,cruel and so was all the talk and bombast.
Machinery of nations trying to prove which could stand the most blood-letting.
Worst fear that of being sent out to inflict wounds or death on others.
145-6 Crusade against pacifists not yet so strenuous.

147 Atrocities - bound to be all round... brutalised.

Conscription and objection

p.183 Refused even to attest under the \Derby scheme.
187  No-one must stand out, be an exception.  188 Conscription coming
Not the quarrel of the whole of the country.

p.192 'Artist'- no excuse on that ground.

p.193  Tragedy for any of the great powers to get complete victory.

p.196  Peace of all nations.  (Supposed salient characteristics of each are enumerated). 

197  (Highlander poster) Worth not fighting for.

244  All the labour and ingenuity that are being spent in the invention of yet more diabolical means of destruction... 245 Felling of trees.

Types, Views and Fate of Conscientious Objectors (COs)

p.228  One CO married just before arrested; woman who 'stood by' up to very gates of prison.

229  3 months' exemption, sole support of widowed mother.  

231  Two 'Irish lunatics'.
(Social scene, Mrs Mowbray's) All very delightful and unconventional.

p.232  At Local Tribunal, passed for Combatant Service; appealing to House of Commons.
'Beefy, sanctimonious old men, sitting there to tell me it's my duty to go out and take my share in murdering peasant-boys and students and labourers... And the same sort of old men on their side... And the capitalists of all countries coining money out of bloodshed... 

p.233 (Jewish CO) Appealing on racial and personal grounds, won't be made to fight Jews of other countries... relatives scattered about in allied, enemy and neutral countries alike...
They'll never dare introduce conscription into Ireland. It'll mean revolution if they do.

p.235  Humanitarian grounds:Conscription has got to be fought... (opposing) sickening cant... 
People who don't let themselves be dazzled... and who are ready to work for the overthrow of governments that can organise wholesale butchery as a means by which to extend dominion. 
236 Militarists' hatred of us.

p.236 It will be the war all over again if they do win their complete military victory. And as long as we have big armies and navies, we shall always have wars. No civilised industrial population of any country wants war... until the idea is drilled into them by those in power. 
237 Without the masses there would/could be no war. Crazy campaign of greed and hatred. Old men at home; narrow-minded women and unimaginative girls... 
238 War not only evil,but stupid and petty and beastly...
239  all those war-shrines. N-CS, despicable compromise. Passive pacifists won,t do any good.

p.243  Risks: perhaps imprisonment, perhaps death... the latter quite probable if they attempt to make us do war-work in prison - dirty trick, but they are quite capable of it,

p.259  Dozens of COs in the various camps arrayed only in blankets; tearing up khaki.
-260 In England, so suppose authorities won't remove blankets. Two policemen called at rooms.
 -261 shadowed by detective.  Bound to be raided : (seen as) nihilists, anarchists,socialists, dangerous \seditious elements..

p.262  Treated worse than ordinary criminals; kept in irons for 12 hours. 
-263 chapel every Sunday, only time when prisoners in solitary see each other.  Clergy preaching war from pulpit.
264   Men in NCC being treated in most despicable way; some sent to France.  Working upon each other's nerves, exhorting each other...

p.268  'A coward, the genuine article' 269 (Fear of becoming 18) drives you mad slowly, day by day.

Personal relationships continuing and changing

p.247  Perversion in the true sense to try to force ourselves...
257  One could not tell that sort of thing.

p.273  Forbidden regions... nothing unfamiliar now in the thought...  
275 world turned upside down.

(Part 3) Dilemmas and Decisions

p.294 (Hostility) Female militarists. Work of National Importance.

295  Appealing again: passed for General Service by Local Tribunal.

295 Socialism associated with 'red ties and riots' 

296  [The dominant ideology] 'They distrust exceptions to rule': 'how German, in fact'.  

297 Battle Hymns for our men  
298 Letter opened by the censor, girls ever so proud of it. 
(Soldier on leave, in family circle) Killed 3 Huns...  
299 One-sided absurdity apparent to no-one but herself.

301 They do queer things to the C.O.s in prison...  officials have more or less got a free hand with them, backed by public opinion.. ghastly punishments that may injure for life. Deliberate, cold-blooded torture. 
302  I hate all talk about "a man's duty to the state". Why has the State the right to take more than it can give? Each can only answer for himself.

p.304  One regret: senselessness of repression and self-denial; real perversion brain vs. body, continuous struggle. 
305  (Options) Perhaps to escape to Ireland, life of outlaw and outcast.
p.306  Central Appeal Tribunal at House of Commons. Called for 2.30; 5 of 12 heard by 4 p.m.
Cases and points:-
Socialistic grounds, autodidact, dismissed, passed for Foreign Service.
Friends and supporters, newspapers, detective, police.
307 'The woman at his side'. Suffragette among CO supporters. 
308  25 men deciding fate.  
CO in Khaki (uniform): taken by military authorities despite appeal pending. Chairman decreed he was to be restored to civilian ranks before his case could be heard.
p.309  Religious scruples. Military Rep., sneering.  Ordered to WNI, refused.
311 No righteous war. Who can say at this stage that England [sic] is only fighting to avenge Belgium...? 312 Asserting the right to question.

313 (Tribunal members) all looked pompous, comfortable, overfed, righteously indignant; old, safe. -
315 Having tea before announcing decision.

316 Non-Combatant Service (NCS) tantamount to a sentence of penal servitude for an Absolutist CO,who would inevitably be court-martialled for refusing to obey an order.
-317 Terror of monotony and brutality, and the depths to which his own mind, thrust back upon itself, might sink. 
 -319 'Still at large/?' had become a form of greeting among COs.  
'Atheist', socialist not religious grounds, told he 'could scarcely lay claim to have a conscience'.
p.320 Temp exemption not renewed - Board seemed to think it was time he devoted his efforts to work of greater importance than keeping old lady in Chiswick from starvation 

324 Manchester, socialist meeting.  
Experiences: Prison hospital. Solitary confinement. 
-325 Helpless exasperation; senseless cruel punishments; straitjacket. Emaciated wreck
-326 Princetown.(work camp).  327 unsympathetic prison doctor.

p.331 (Conversation on train) Soldiers: Canadian, Irishman. 
-332 Sinn Fein rebellion; cigarettes. 
Pals in trenches would say 'Keep out of this if you can,we'd never have gone into it if we'd known.' Government sitting at home. 
-333 same on the other side; wounded prisoner, dead fed up.

p.341  (After sentence) Hard labour, breaking stones in quarry; relief after solitary.
Silly waste of it all.
342 Not a case of measuring the sufferings of men in trenches with those in prison. 
Government regretted conscience clause in Military Service Act as soon as it was out 
-343 need of cannon-fodder so great.
Navvies' work, silly brutalising tasks. Systematic brutality carefully kept out of papers.

344 Celebration of total exemption, having been turned down by doctor.

p.339  Always a great disappointment to his father, wouldn't go out shooting...

After rounding off the stories of the main characters, the book ends with passages of summary and speculation, on both .the pacifist and the gender/sexuality themes (some of this a bit weird and dodgy) which have been interwoven throughout.

p.347 .. What has to be sacrificed to love between man and man. Motive-force, might do much. Tolerance, understanding 
-348 Judged by worst types, or most to be pitied. 
May be advance-guard of more enlightened civilisation. Leaders and masters of the race. 
-349 evolution: deformities and abnormalities as samples, necessary to production of higher type. Dual nature, extended range.

p.349  'Think he'll keep his reason ... even if he's never able to write a note of music again. But even so - one can't say that it is all for nothing..
The patient heroes on both sides who do their bit... (Sacrifice of Alan and Dennis - gay COs - and others like them).to save these.and such as these in the generations to come..

350 'Oh, well, people don't think...'

Afterword, by Jonathan Cutbill, London 1988 (Gay Men's Press edition); revised 2018,  pp.355-363.
This includes an interesting reference to "Nicolas Walter [the well-known activist and anarchist who was an expert on banned books ...]"
(p.355)  He approached both book and publisher from the pacifist end and it is thanks to his generosity with information that the main outlines of Rose Allatini's story can be told.

He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrow and acquainted with grief, and we hid, as it were, our faces from him; he was despised and we esteemed him not.  - Isaiah ch.53 (from memory).


  1. With reference to the 'brief notice' above, it may be worth mentioning that the central female character described as lesbian/bi-sexual and anti-war only becomes so, or only allows herself to acknowledge and articulate being so, in the course of the novel. This is by contrast with the central male character, and is one of the book's great strengths.

  2. For information about an actual gay CO of the First World War, Scottish writer Edward Gaitens (author of 'Dance of the Apprentices'), see
    'Objectors and Resisters, 1914-18: example 1, Edward Gaitens'