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An exploration of artistic freedom, survival, and the hidden places of the imagination, including James Baldwin in Provence, Josephine Baker in Paris, Kevin Killian in San Francisco, and E. M. Forster in Cambridge, among other groundbreaking queer artists of the twentieth century.
Nothing Ever Just Disappears is radical new history of seven queer lives and the places that shaped these groundbreaking artists.
At the turn of the century, in the shade of Cambridge's cloisters, a young E. M. Forster conceals his passion for other men, even as he daydreams about the sun-warmed bodies of ancient Greece. Under the dazzling lights of interwar Paris, Josephine Baker dances her way to fame and fortune and discovers sexual freedom backstage at the Folies Bergère.
And on Jersey Island, in the darkest days of Nazi occupation, the transgressive surrealist Claude Cahun mounts an extraordinary resistance to save the island she loves, scattering hundreds of dissident artworks along its streets and shorelines.
Nothing Ever Just Disappears brings to life the stories of seven remarkable figures and illuminates the connections between where they lived, who they loved, and the art they created. It shows that a queer sense of place is central to the history of the twentieth century and powerfully evokes how much is lost when queer spaces are forgotten.
From the suffragettes in London and James Baldwin's home in Provence, to Kevin Killian's San Francisco and Derek Jarman’s cottage in Kent, this is both a thrilling new literary history and a celebration of freedom, survival, and the hidden places of the imagination.
Author: Diarmuid Hester
Hardback Published 3 November 2023 368 pages
"Diarmuid Hester has written a book I have always wanted to read. An exploration, celebration and reclamation of queer lives within their spaces and landscapes, it roams from the cloisters and locked gates of Cambridge to the hilly streets of San Francisco, the apartments of New York City and the nuclear desert of Dungeness's shingle-shore, where Derek Jarman created a world on the margins and of the margins. Hester is a fizzingly brilliant writer, and with its fusion of personal testimony, reportage, cultural history and literary criticism, this book will surely find a wide readership" ROBERT MACFARLANE
"A charming, playfully challenging companion on a dreamy quest through lost landscapes of defiance, imagination and desire" JEREMY ATHERTON LIN