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Christopher Wood & Gerald Heard

Henry Fitzgerald Heard commonly called Gerald Heard (October 6, 1889 - August 14, 1971) was an historian, science writer, educator, and philosopher. He wrote many articles and over 35 books. Heard and his lifelong partner, Christopher Wood, moved to California with Aldous Huxley in 1937, where Heard became something of a guru, dressing in purple suede shoes and a leather jacket with leopard-skin collar.

Christopher Wood (1900–1976) was a Plantagenet descendant and young heir to the grocery fortune of Petty, Wood, and Co. Heard began an affair with Wood, a slim fellow Anglo Irishman eleven years his junior, some time in the mid-1920s. He described his new boyfriend in a 1926 letter to Naomi Mitchison: “[he] has nothing to do save play—piano, etc: lacking (through parental foresight in accumulating and then dying) economic urge, wavy hair, 26 and somehow appealing.” This affair, among other issues, contributed to his rupture with Plunkett a few years later.

In 1927, Heard moved in with Christopher Wood at 1A Wilton Street in well-heeled Belgravia. His relationship with Plunkett was floundering at this point, not only because of his competing attentions to Wood, but also from his mounting devotion to his own work. Heard’s secretarial work had become increasingly part-time to his employer’s increasing chagrin. In 1924, Plunkett had appointed Heard to the board of his foundation, established in 1919 for the study and development of cooperatives. The same year, Heard published his first book, Narcissus: An Anatomy of Clothes.


Jack Sprott, Gerald Heard, E.M. Forster And Lytton Strachey
Gerald Heard was an historian, science writer, educator and philosopher. Heard and his lifelong partner, Christopher Wood, moved to California with Aldous Huxley in 1937, where Heard became something of a guru dressing in purple suede shoes and a leather jacket with leopard-skin collar. Christopher Wood was a Plantagenet descendant and heir to the grocery fortune of Petty, Wood, and Co. Heard began an affair with Wood, a slim fellow Anglo Irishman 11 years his junior, some time in the mid-1920s.


Gerald Heard, Christopher Isherwood, Sir Julian Huxley, Aldous Huxley And Linus Pauling


Aldous Huxley And Gerald Heard

In 1929, Heard and Wood moved to 28 Portman Square, in the West End, where they inhabited a modern new luxury flat overlooking the roof garden of Selfridge’s department store, with “a cat which tone[d] in perfectly with the furnishings.”90 Like Heard, Wood had had an unhappy childhood. Born Christopher William Graham Wood to a wealthy wholesale grocery family in Lambeth, Surrey, his mother died in childbirth, and his father remarried and died shortly thereafter. His father, Graham Wood, bequeathed to him the bulk of his estate (valued at 101,556 pounds in 1905) and the guardianship of a jealous stepmother. Wood and Heard had grown in opposite directions from their early experiences: where Wood had learned to hang back, Heard had learned to entertain. Where Heard sought pleasure in ideas and spirituality and clothes, Wood sought it almost entirely in things. Where Heard dedicated himself to his writing, Wood never completed his Cambridge degree. Christopher Isherwood described Wood as “the spoilt, wayward younger son, with his airplane, his musical boxes, his superbicycle and all his other dangerous or expensive amusements and toys.” E.M. Forster took a definite dislike to Wood, describing him as “that shit.” Heard and Wood were like two sides of one person, which, according to Isherwood, gave them the air of brothers. Wood looked after Heard’s material needs, and his inheritance allowed Heard a better lifestyle than he could have achieved on his own. Still, he complained of poverty whenever Wood left town.

Heard’s personal interest in psychology received encouragement from W.J.H. “Jack” Sprott (1897–1971), a lecturer in the subject at Nottingham University and a Cambridge friend of Christopher Wood’s. Sprott, also known as “Sebastian,” read and commented on most of his early manuscripts. Their correspondence reflects Heard’s concern with his own psychological development and suggests that his interwar writing can be read as a kind of intellectual autobiography. If so, then his books document his evolution from psychological crisis (1929) to greater equanimity through small fellowship groups (1931) to his need for rigorous regimens like yoga (1935), vegetarianism, and militant pacifism (1937).

Source: Between the Pigeonholes: Gerald Heard, 1889-1971 By Alison Falby, Cambridge Scholars Publishing

Further Readings:

Between the Pigeonholes: Gerald Heard, 1889-1971 by Alison Falby
Hardcover: 220 pages
Publisher: Cambridge Scholars Publishing (January 5, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 184718555X
ISBN-13: 978-1847185556
Amazon: Between the Pigeonholes: Gerald Heard, 1889-1971

Aldous Huxley described Gerald Heard as that rare beinga learned man who [made] his mental home on the vacant spaces between the pigeonholes. Heards off-beat interests made him a cultural and intellectual pioneer on both sides of the Atlantic in the middle decades of the twentieth century. Despite accolades from such figures as E.M. Forster, who characterized him as one of the most penetrating minds in England, and Christopher Isherwood, who described him upon his death as one of the few great magic mythmakers and revealers of lifes wonder, Heard is largely unknown today. Between the Pigeonholes is the first published full-length study of Gerald Heard. Alison Falby examines Heards ideas and contexts in interwar Britain and postwar America, demonstrating his significance in several important twentieth-century movements. These movements include popular science and psychology, psychical research, Eastern spirituality, pacifism, cooperativism, and Californian counter-culture. All of Heards involvements expressed his desire to convey religious ideas in the modern languages of biological, social, and physical science. Falby also traces Heards shifting political leanings from left-liberal in the early-1930s to libertarian in the early-1960s. She finds that his modernist theological approach, conventionally associated with liberal religion and politics, provided spiritual fodder for those on both the Left and the Right: Isherwood and W.H. Auden on the one hand, and Clare Boothe Luce and Spiritual Mobilization on the other. Using Heard as a prism through which to examine popular ideas, Falby shows that the twentieth century contained much political and religious heterogeneity. This heterogeneity illustrates the diverse and overlapping roots of both liberal religion and conservative politics in the twenty-first century.

More Real Life Romances at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Real Life Romance


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