(Boylove Documentary Sourcebook) - About the Personal Life of T. H. White

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Terence Hanbury "Tim" White (1906–1964).

From T. H. White: A Biography by Sylvia Townsend Warner (New York: Viking Press, 1968), originally published in 1967 in England by Jonathan Cape with Chatto & Windus.

This year, as well as entertaining three lots of deaf-and-blind visitors, he was housing an overflow of summer children.

September 17th, 1957.
Tomorrow my enchanting brace of boys, who have filled this house with noise, vulgarity, Gilbert and Sullivan and pure happiness for three weeks, go home to London. It has been my happiest summer since I don’t remember when. Happiness is a dangerous thing to play with.

September 18th, 1957.
I can’t write about the important part of this summer, because I have fallen in love with Zed. On Braye Beach with Killie waved and waved to the aircraft till it was out of sight – my wild geese all gone and me a lonely old Charlie on the sands who had waddled down to the water’s edge but couldn’t fly. It would be unthinkable to make Zed unhappy with the weight of this impractical, unsuitable love. It would be against his human dignity. Besides, I love him for being happy and innocent, so it would be destroying what I loved. He could not stand the weight of the world against such feelings – not that they are bad in themselves. It is the public opinion which makes them so. In any case, on every score of his happiness, not my safety, the whole situation is an impossible one. All I can do is to behave like a gentleman. It has been my hideous fate to be born with an infinite capacity for love and joy with no hope of using them.

I do not believe that some sort of sexual relations with Zed would do him harm – he would probably think and call them t’rific. I do not think I could hurt him spiritually or mentally. I do not believe that perverts are made so by seduction. I do not think that sex is evil, except when it is cruel or degrading, as in rape, sodomy, etc., or that I am evil or that he could be. But the practical facts of life are an impenetrable barrier – the laws of God, the laws of Man. His age, his parents, his self-esteem, his self-reliance, the process of his development in a social system hostile to the heart, the brightness of his being which has made this what a home should be for three whole weeks of utter holiday, the fact that the old exist for the benefit of the young, not vice versa, the factual impossibilities set up by law and custom, the unthinkableness of turning him into a lonely or sad or eclipsed or furtive person – every possible detail of what is expedient, not what is moral, offers the fox to my bosom, and I must let it gnaw.

He could not still his heart. During the next four years he was to live at the mercy of a love which could only be expressed, in falsities, which he dared not let out of his sight, which he could not trust, could not renounce, could not forego without sinning against his own nature, could not secure. He was totally involved; his best and his worst, his solicitude for what was young and wild and dauntless and dependent and had to be fed on the best beefsteak, his passion to impart and educate and oversee, his craving which thirty years earlier it had been so easy to voice in that inquiry to Potts: ‘How is Mary? Has she had any of those children yet – of which she promised me one for immoral purposes?’ His life on Alderney with its ownerships and neighbourlinesses, above all his success with the deaf/blind, had almost abolished his sense of insecurity. Now it was back, with every ingenuity of suspicion and self-pity, and became paranoia.

Meanwhile, he was only at the beginning, thinking he could reason himself into some sort of order and hoping for a letter.

James "Jimmy" Andrew Arlott ("Zed") as a choirboy in 1956, aged 11.

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