Searight was born in Kensington, England in December 1883. He attended Charterhouse School (a boarding school) for his childhood and teenage years. In 1904 he received a commission into the Queen's Own Western Kent Regiment, and was stationed for several years in India. It was here that he befriended English author E.M. Forster (A Passage to India) and Cambridge don G.L. Dickinson. His regiment was later reassigned to Iraq, and then to Egypt. Searight also enjoyed leave time around the Mediterranean Sea—especially in Italy.
It was during this extensive travel that Searight developed his interest in linguistics and his familiarity with Middle Eastern and Far Eastern languages and cultures.
Searight retired to Rome in 1926. In 1934 he contacted Charles Kay Ogden to discuss publishing the Sona book. Ogden was the creator of a modified version of English known as "Basic English", which consisted of a reduced vocabulary (only 850 words) and simplified grammar. Ogden was also the editor of the Psyche Miniatures series at Cambridge University, and he approved and published the Sona book, as well as writing an introduction for it.
Searight was a homosexual. There is some reason to believe that Searight was the model for the hero of Forster's novel Maurice.
Although the Sona book is Searight's only published work, he also compiled a 600-page manuscript work called the Paidikion. It was made up of homoerotic stories, a detailed listing of his sexual conquests—the "Paidiology" -- and a 137-page verse autobiography entitled "The Furnace".
Searight died in 1957. Ogden originally received the Paidikion, but it was later retrieved from a used bookstore for half a crown. The book was never published as a whole, but excerpts were included in the International Journal of Greek Love in 1966.
Colonialism and Homosexuality by Robert Aldrich
Paperback: 464 pages
Publisher: Routledge (December 25, 2002)
Amazon: Colonialism and Homosexuality
Colonialism and Homosexuality is a thorough investigation of the connections of homosexuality and imperialism from the late 1800s - the era of 'new imperialism' - until the era of decolonization. Robert Aldrich reconstructs the context of a number of liaisons, including those of famous men such as Cecil Rhodes, E.M. Forster or André Gide, and the historical situations which produced both the Europeans and their non-Western lovers.
Colonial lands, which in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century included most of Africa, South and Southeast Asia and the islands of the Pacific and Indian Oceans and the Caribbean, provided a haven for many Europeans whose sexual inclinations did not fit neatly into the constraints of European society.
Each of the case-studies is a micro-history of a particular colonial situation, a sexual encounter, and its wider implications for cultural and political life. Students both of colonial history, and of gender and queer studies, will find this an informative read.
Understanding the British Empire by Ronald Hyam
Paperback: 576 pages
Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (June 28, 2010)
Amazon: Understanding the British Empire
Understanding the British Empire draws on a lifetime's research and reflection on the history of the British Empire by one of the senior figures in the field. Essays cover six key themes: the geopolitical and economic dynamics of empire, religion and ethics, imperial bureaucracy, the contribution of political leaders, the significance of sexuality, and the shaping of imperial historiography. A major new introductory chapter draws together the wider framework of Dr Hyam's studies and several new chapters focus on lesser known figures. Other chapters are revised versions of earlier papers, reflecting some of the debates and controversies raised by the author's work, including the issue of sexual exploitation, the European intrusion into Africa, including the African response to missionaries, trusteeship, and Winston Churchill's imperial attitudes. Combining traditional archival research with newer forms of cultural exploration, this is an unusually wide-ranging approach to key aspects of empire.
Empire and Sexuality (Studies in Imperalism) by Ronald Hyam
Paperback: 248 pages
Publisher: Manchester University Press (September 15, 1991)
Amazon: Empire and Sexuality (Studies in Imperalism)
This study of British imperial history has been aimed at those who are interested in exploring the underlying realities of British expansion on the world stage. This book deals specifically with sex and its effect on the Empire. The book discusses the differences between the private lives and public responsibilities of the men who ran the Empire. It examines the issues of marriage, celibacy and women, Victorian sexuality and sexual opportunity. It covers the variety of communities in the Empire - plantations, trading posts, mining compounds, convict settlements, mission stations and settler communities - and discusses sexual life in India with emphasis on promiscuity and the resulting levels of venereal disease in the Indian Army. The book also discusses the problems resulting from polygamy, the relationship between poverty and prostitution and the issue of white slavery. It examines the change in sexual attitudes during the Edwardian era and cites specific cases, tragedies and scandals, including the Silberrad case, the Crewe circular and the "Purity Campaign", resulting from sexual encounters. Finally, the author draws conclusions from the articles and essays included in the book and relates the issues of race, sex and the Empire, finally concluding that in his opinion a return to Victorian sexual values is the last thing the world needs.