Edwin and John
A Personal History of the American South
By James Sears
Routledge – 2009 – 142 pages
In Edwin and John: A Personal History of the American South, award-winning author James T. Sears interweaves diaries, letters and poems to craft an innovative first-person narrative history that details the hard realities of growing up gay in the South during the early decades of the 20th century.
Set against the backdrop of World War II and the post-war South, Edwin and John, provides a unique and intimate approach to queer history by following the 50 year relationship between John Zeigler and Edwin Peacocke that carried them both from their roots in the conservative South, through service in World War II, and into a placid and loving literary life where they opened a bookshop in what was then the small town of Charleston, South Carolina. Edwin and John is a revealing look at queer history, detailing how these two men and their remarkable circle of close friends--which included some of the greatest writers and artists of their era including Prentiss Taylor, Carson McCullers, and John Bennett--endured war, intolerance, and jealousies, while living proud and public lives in far more conservative times.
List of Figures. Foreword. Acknowledgments. Introduction. I. The Early Years. 1. Clingman’s Dome. 2. A Cure? 3. What Must One Do? 4. The Incident. 5. Lean Wolf Hours. II. The War Years. 6. A Yeoman’s Journey. 7. Colorado Schooling. 8. Yakatut. 9. Cape Chiniak. 10. Reunion. 11. Edwin’s Discharge. 12. At Sea. III. Book Basement, Travels, and Beyond. 13. The Book Basement Years. 14. Last Years. Afterword. After Edwin. Notes. Index.
James T. Sears specializes in research in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues in education, curriculum studies, and queer history. He earned an undergraduate degree in history from Southern Illinois University, a graduate degree in political science from the University of Wisconsin, and his doctorate in education and sociology from Indiana University, which awarded him its Outstanding Alumni Award. Sears is the author or editor of eighteen books, including his groundbreaking Growing Up Gay in the South as well as Lonely Hunters: An Oral History of Lesbian and Gay Southern Life (A 1998 finalist for the American Library Association gay non-fiction award) and Behind the Mask of the Mattachine (finalist for the Lambda non-fiction Book Award). He has authored The Encylopedia of Sex, Courtship and Culture: The Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries and Growing Older: The Millennial LGBTs. Sears lectures throughout the world and has taught at Harvard University, Trinity University, Indiana University, Penn State University, the College of Charleston, and the University of South Carolina. He has also been a Research Fellow at Center for Feminist Studies at the University of Southern California, a Fulbright Senior Research Southeast Asia Scholar on sexuality and culture, and a Research Fellow at the University of Queensland.