Born: March 13, 1905, Hascombe, United Kingdom
Died: January 15, 1958, Nice, France
Education: Eton College
Lived: Cobblestone House, Hascombe, Godalming GU8 4BT, UK (51.14153, -0.54976)
Chemin du Col de Bast, 06100 Nice, France (43.7373, 7.24177)
Buried: Cimetière Caucade, Nice, Departement des Alpes-Maritimes, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, France
Buried alongside: Sam Langford
Brian Howard was an English poet, whose work belied a spectacularly precocious start in life; in the end, he became more of a journalist. He published only one substantial poetry collection God Save the King. Irish-born Sam Langford was his companion, from 1943 onwards. Langford liked to sail and commanded an Air-Sea Rescue Launch in the British navy during the war. He was invalidated out of the navy with a foot problem and briefly worked for the BBC before travelling and living abroad with Howard. Like Howard, Langford became addicted to drugs. He died in his bath when he was gassed by a faulty water heater at the house he shared with Howard and Howard's mother in the south of France. A few days later, Howard committed suicide by taking an overdose of sedatives. Howard will write: "I am doing my utmost to involve myself emotionally with Sam, and have only succeeded so far physically. I feel quite unsafe still. But I never intend to let Sam go." And later: "I am now really, to tell the truth, violently in love with Sam.” After a double funeral, they were buried together at the Cimetière Caucade de Nice, Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur, France.
Together from 1943 to 1958: 15 years.
Brian Christian de Claiborne Howard (March 13, 1905 – January 15, 1958)
Sam Langford (died in 1958)
Days of Love edited by Elisa Rolle
Release Date: September 21, 2014
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Dirk Bogarde purchased the large farmhouse Cobblestone House (formerly Nore House) at Hascombe, near Godalming in 1962. He lived there with his partner and manager, Anthony Forwood, until 1971.
Address: Hascombe, Godalming GU8 4BT, UK (51.14153, -0.54976)
Type: Private Property
English Heritage Building ID: 291246 (Grade II, 1960)
Built in XVII century with XIX and XX century additions to right.
Timber framed, clad in whitewashed and rendered brick below, tile hung above, some in diamond pattern, with sandstone rubble and brick extensions to right, all under plain tiled roofs, some hipped and half-hipped. Two storeys with end stack to left and offset square end stack to right; square ridge stack to right of centre dated 1750 on top. Four leaded casements to first floor and three larger leaded casements to ground floor. Panelled door to right of centre. Wings at right angles to rear. Dormered extensions to right, once a barn converted in circa 1900 of no especial architectural interest, although it was formerly the home of Brian Howard. Dirk Bogarde entertained several of his Hollywood co-stars at Nore. Among them was Ingrid Bergman, who came to stay for six weeks in 1965 while she was playing “A Month in the Country,” the first production at the newly opened Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford. He wrote of her in his autobiography that she “was constantly amused by my evening walk down to the vegetable gardens to pick the mint for supper”. Screen legend Judy Garland also came to Nore, in 1963, to show Bogarde a script of her semi-autobiographical film “I Could Go On Singing.” After filming “Death in Venice” in 1971, Bogarde moved to West Sussex and then France; Nore estate was sold and subsequently divided up. Bogarde describes leaving Cobblestone House in his biography “Snakes and Ladders” (1978): “…The removal vans trundled slowly down the long drive in a flurry of sleet and snow-showers, leaving the house empty, bare and strangely silent after the long racketing week of packing and crating-up of one’s life.”…
Who: Sir Derek Jules Gaspard Ulric Niven van den Bogaerde (March 28, 1921 – May 8, 1999) aka Dirk Bogarde
Of all Dirk Bogarde's houses in the fifties and sixties, Nore was the finest. Reached by a long private drive through woodland, and much more secluded than Drummers Yard had been, it was officially described as “a large, three-bay continuous jetty house of two storeys and attics”, a yeoman's house, dating in large part from the late XVI century. It stood in about ten acres, with breathtaking views across the Surrey countryside towards the South Downs. It had ten bedrooms, eight bathrooms and six reception rooms, two cottages, a separate studio, a tennis court, a garage block and four pools, “two for water-lilies, one for ducks and one for humans”. There was also a contractual right to a free daily supply of 500 gallons of water. Above all, there were extensive gardens. In the twenties and early thirties Nore had been home to the parents of Brian Howard, the American-born, Eton-educated poet, wit, aesthete, homosexual, “charismatic failure” and “the oddest aircraftman since T. E. Shaw”. He was dark and handsome, had a Machiavellian streak and was “quasi-sadistic mentally, quasi-masochistic physically”; he also had “pity and compassion for all human suffering, he loved the beauties of nature, literature and the arts”, and according to Evelyn Waugh was “mad, bad and dangerous to know”. A great platonic love of his was Daphne Fielding, and although she never saw him at Nore, when she went to stay with Dirk and Tony (Anthony Forwood), she “was conscious of Brian all the time, and his own very particular atmosphere seemed to dominate even Dirk's.” Which was indeed saying something. Howard's parents had rented Nore from Robert Godwin-Austen, a descendant of the topographer who “discovered” the Himalayan peak now known as K2, and whose travels yielded a miniature temple, with a “lion-dog” at each of the four corners, which Dirk found, buried in brambles, and with “a rather curious, and very detailed, phallic symbol standing erect in the very center! So I am not absolutely certain that it was only spirits who went there to worship.”
Queer Places, Vol. 2 edited by Elisa Rolle
Release Date: July 24, 2016
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After a double funeral, Brian Howard and Sam Langford were buried together at the Cimetière Caucade de Nice, Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur, France. Brian Howard failed to fulfil his early promise and published little.
Address: Chemin du Col de Bast, 06100 Nice, France (43.7373, 7.24177)
Type: Private Property
In the summer of 1949 Brian Howard and Sam Langford were looking for a house in the south of France, and started their search in Grasse, but could not find anything they liked and so they took a flat in Nice. They then went to Aix-en-Provence, where Brian Howard got jaundice. They continued to look for a house in the south of France hoping that Brian’s mother, Lura (Laura) Chess Howard, would provide the money. When they found a house at Le Rouret near Grasse she failed to provide the cash. With the death of Brian Howard’s father in October 1954 his mother inherited shares and paintings, and the sale of pictures in Nov. 1955 at Christies raised £20000. Brian Howard and Sam were still keen to settle in France and so she bought a house near Nice - Le Verger, at Col de Bast, Vallon Obscur. Brian Howard and Sam moved into the house at the beginning of January 1958 but disaster struck within two weeks of their arrival. In the morning of January 11, 1958 Sam went to have a bath but workmen had removed an exhaust pipe from the bathroom and Sam died accidentally of asphyxiation from fumes from a gas heater. He was 32. Four days later Howard killed himself by taking an overdose of sedatives. He was 52. Lura Chess Howard continued to live at Le Verger, dying there on May 29, 1965.
Who: Brian Christian de Claiborne Howard (March 13, 1905 – January 15, 1958) and Sam Langford (1926-1958)
Brian Howard was an English poet and later a writer for the New Statesman. He was educated at Eton College, where he was one of the Eton Arts Society group including Harold Acton, Oliver Messel, Anthony Powell and Henry Yorke. He entered Christ Church, Oxford in 1923, not without difficulty. He was prominent in the group later known as the Oxford Wits. He was one of the Hypocrites group that included Harold Acton, Lord David Cecil, L. P. Hartley and Evelyn Waugh. It has been suggested that Howard was Waugh’s model for Anthony Blanche in “Brideshead Revisited.” Waugh wrote, to Lord Baldwin: "There is an aesthetic bugger who sometimes turns up in my novels under various names -- that was 2/3 Brian [Howard] and 1/3 Harold Acton. People think it was all Harold, who is a much sweeter and saner man [than Howard]." In the late 1920s, he was a key figure among London’s "Bright Young Things" - a privileged, fashionable and bohemian set of relentless party-goers, satirised in such novels as Evelyn Waugh’s 1930 "Vile Bodies" where the character of Miles Malpractice owes something to Howard. Apart from Waugh, Howard knew all this circle, including Nancy Mitford, Henry Yorke, Harold Acton, and especially Nancy Cunard with whom he shared artistic and political interests, maintaining contact throughout his life. In 1929 he was famously involved in the "Bruno Hat" hoax when the fashionable Hon Mr & Mrs Bryan Guinness promoted a spoof London art exhibition by an apparently unknown German painter Bruno Hat (impersonated by the German-speaking Tom Mitford, brother of Nancy and Diana Mitford - the latter a socialite, arts patron and friend of Howard, Lytton Strachey, Evelyn Waugh, Boris Anrep, Dora Carrington John Betjeman and other artistic and literary figures, before her second marriage to British fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley.) Bruno Hat’s paintings were the work of Brian Howard. Subsequently he led a very active social life, tried to come to terms with his homosexuality, and published only one substantial poetry collection “God Save the King” (1930.) During WWII took part in the Dunkirk evacuation and later worked for MI5 but was dismissed from the War Office in June 1942, after which he was conscripted to the Royal Air Force with a low-level clerk’s job at Bomber Command, High Wycombe, and an Air Ministry note on his file that he should never be given a commission. Transferred to another posting, where he referred to his commanding officer as “Colonel Cutie” (a trait Evelyn Waugh gave his rebellious rogue Basil Seal in the novel "Put Out More Flags"), Howard was dismissed in Dec. 1944, by which time he had formed a longstanding open relationship with Sam Langford, an Irishman serving in the Air Sea Rescue. After the war, Howard drifted around Europe with Sam, continuing to write occasional articles and reviews for the New Statesman, BBC and others, fitfully working on an uncompleted biography of the gay English writer Norman Douglas (author of the novel "South Wind") and doing no substantial work. Indiscreetly promiscuous, drinking heavily, taking drugs and behaving outrageously, they were expelled in turn from Monaco, France, Italy and Spain, the French authorities noting their "moralité douteuse" (dubious morality.) Evelyn Waugh wrote: "I used to know Brian Howard well—a dazzling young man to my innocent eyes. In later life he became very dangerous—constantly attacking people with his fists in public places—so I kept clear of him. He was consumptive but the immediate cause of his death was a broken heart."
Queer Places, Vol. 3 edited by Elisa Rolle
Release Date: July 24, 2016
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