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James Agate (September 9, 1877 – June 6, 1947)

James Evershed Agate (9 September 1877 – 6 June 1947) was a British diarist and critic. In the period between the wars, he was one of Britain's most influential theatre critics. After working in his father's business until his late twenties he found his way into journalism, being on the staff of The Manchester Guardian (1907–14); drama critic for The Saturday Review (1921–23), and The Sunday Times (1923–47), and holding the same post for the BBC (1925–32). Agate also wrote novels and published nine volumes of his diaries under the title Ego.

In his self-penned obituary he noted: "His brusqueness was proverbial. When a visitor said to him: ‘I mustn’t outstay my welcome,’ Agate gowled: ‘Who said anything about welcome‘?"’

James Harding, in his 1986 biography of Agate, described him as "the archetypal ‘man about town,’ wit, spendthrift, homosexual, eccentric, gossip-monger." Kemieth Tynan described meeting Agate when Tynan was eighteen and Agate sixty-eight: Agate placed his hand on the young man’s knee and asked him if he was gay. Tynan told him, "I’m afraid not," to which Agate replied, well. I thought we’d get that out of the way."

Agate once wrote, "The Englishman can get along with sex quite perfectly so long as he can pretend that it isn’t sex but something else."

Agate's diaries and letters, published in a series of nine volumes under the title of Ego, are a record of the British theatre of his era and also of his non-theatrical interests, including sports, social gossip and his private preoccupations with his health and precarious finances. In addition to drama criticism he wrote about the cinema and English literature for London newspapers, and published three novels, translated a play and had it staged in London, albeit briefly, and regularly brought out collections of his theatre essays and reviews.

In 1918, while still serving in France, Agate married Sidonie Joséphine Edmée Mourret-Castillon, daughter of a rich landowner. The marriage was short-lived and after it broke up amicably, Agate's relationships were exclusively homosexual.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Agate

Further Readings:

The selective Ego: The diaries of James Agate by James Agate
Hardcover: 269 pages
Publisher: Harrap; First Edition edition (1976)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0245528490
ISBN-13: 978-0245528491
Amazon: The selective Ego: The diaries of James Agate


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Tags: essayist: james agate, gay classics, queers in history
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