Perhaps his finest achievement is the controversial Bertram Cope's Year (1919), a subtle novel about homosexuals. Fuller self-published the novel in Chicago after unsuccessfully making the rounds of several New York publishing houses. Set on the campus of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, it featured an attractive young English instructor who becomes the elusive object of desire for several young women and at least two men of different ages. Cope's primary emotional attachment is to his effeminate college chum Arthur Lemoyne, who comes to Evanston to live with Cope until Lemoyne is expelled from the campus for making a backstage pass at another male student while dressed as a woman. The novel ends on an ambiguous note concerning the issue of Cope's sexuality. It received less than enthusiastic reviews from critics who did not understand the book's satirical intentions. It puzzled critics and embarrassed his friends. Upon its republication in 1998, it received enthusiastic reviews.
Fuller was born in Chicago on January 9, 1857. He never married. His journals from his teenage days make it clear he was in love with some dormitory roommates at Allison Classical Academy. At the age of nineteen, he wrote in an imaginary personal advertisement: "I would pass by twenty beautiful women to look upon a handsome man".
At the age of 34 he wrote that he was in love with an adolescent boy who had blue eyes and strawberry blonde hair. Five years later, Fuller wrote and published a short play, At Saint Judas's, about a homosexual who commits suicide at the wedding of his former lover. It is credited with being the first American play dealing explicitly with homosexuality. In 1924 Fuller embarked upon the last of his many European tours with William Emery Shepherd, a 24-year-old college student. Their letters do not indicate their relationship was anything but a friendship. The trip exhausted Fuller, who continued writing literary reviews for a variety of newspapers and magazines upon his return to Chicago, as well as two novels that were published posthumously.
Chicago Historical Society, ICH 10342. Henry Blake Fuller (©1)
At the age of 34 Henry Blake Fuller wrote that he was in love with an adolescent boy who had blue eyes and strawberry blonde hair. Five years later, Fuller wrote and published a short play, At Saint Judas's, about a homosexual who commits suicide at the wedding of his former lover. It is credited with being the first American play dealing explicitly with homosexuality. Fuller died in Chicago on July 28, 1929, "at the home of Wakeman T. Ryan, with whom he had lived for the last three years."
Fuller died in Chicago on July 28, 1929, "at the home of Wakeman T. Ryan, with whom he had lived for the last three years." His death was ascribed to "heart disease, aggravated by the heat."
In 2000, Fuller was posthumously inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame for his contributions to gay literature.
Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time by Elisa Rolle
Paperback: 760 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (July 1, 2014)
Amazon: Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time
Days of Love chronicles more than 700 LGBT couples throughout history, spanning 2000 years from Alexander the Great to the most recent winner of a Lambda Literary Award. Many of the contemporary couples share their stories on how they met and fell in love, as well as photos from when they married or of their families. Included are professional portraits by Robert Giard and Stathis Orphanos, paintings by John Singer Sargent and Giovanni Boldini, and photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnson, Arnold Genthe, and Carl Van Vechten among others. “It's wonderful. Laying it out chronologically is inspired, offering a solid GLBT history. I kept learning things. I love the decision to include couples broken by death. It makes clear how important love is, as well as showing what people have been through. The layout and photos look terrific.” Christopher Bram “I couldn’t resist clicking through every page. I never realized the scope of the book would cover centuries! I know that it will be hugely validating to young, newly-emerging LGBT kids and be reassured that they really can have a secure, respected place in the world as their futures unfold.” Howard Cruse “This international history-and-photo book, featuring 100s of detailed bios of some of the most forward-moving gay persons in history, is sure to be one of those bestsellers that gay folk will enjoy for years to come as reference and research that is filled with facts and fun.” Jack Fritscher
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