Circles: Evan Morgan

OK, so this is an experiment.

The diagram below is based on my fascination…oh what the hell, let’s go ahead and call it an obsession…my obsession, then, with how the various objects of my interest connect. That is, the networks of blood, friendship, enmity, inspiration, creativity and sensibility which link so many of the people we’ve pondered on Strange Flowers. This is about the circles they moved in, and how those circles overlap – all which I’ve attempted to map out.

I chose as my first subject Evan Morgan, Lord Tredegar, who was born on this day in 1893. It is precisely the improbable contradictions he embodied in his life, the unlikely meeting of the most disparate worlds, which makes this writer/occultist/aristocrat/papal bigwig so interesting. A diagram connecting the Vatican, Nazi brass and Aleister Crowley lacks only L. Ron Hubbard and Queen Beatrix to bring it into the realm of conspiracy theory.

It’s important to realise this diagram is selective, subjective and simplified. Selective, because to map all the different ways that a single figure relates to other people in their life and realm(s) of activity would be hugely difficult and ultimately unhelpful. Subjective, because I have shamelessly highlighted the connections which are of interest to me. Simplified, because even among those participants that are shown there are omissions, criss-crossing connections of friendship, family and collaboration which exhaust the capacities of legible network mapping. In this outing, for instance, we see Aldous Huxley, whom Morgan entertained at his home in Wales, writing a book called Crome Yellow which Morgan partly inspired. Clearly there were many other influences on the book, but they are not relevant here.

If I were cleverer I could probably make a hotspotted diagram allowing you to click through to previous posts, but that might have to wait for Circles 2.0. In the meantime you can find links below the diagram. Hopefully it makes some kind of sense. As the old saying goes, ‘what a tangled web we weave, when first we set out to map the highly complex multilateral quasi-familial relations between members of an inherently unstable group of largely forgotten eccentrics’.

(Oh, and the diagram is clearer if you click on it and view it on its own.)

Further reading
The double life of Evan Morgan
Homme fatal (Denham Fouts)
Sashay shantay epée, The Marquis (George de Cuevas)
After Hours (Nancy Cunard)
“I’m perplexed”, Saving the Abbey (Aleister Crowley)
To the very dregs (Peter Warlock)
Dreamers of Decadence (Philippe Jullian)
Rare bird, Birds’ lament, A Casati family tree, Peer to peer, Come on Algernon (Lord Berners)
Ronald works the room, Concerning the Eccentricities of Ronald Firbank, At home with Ronald Firbank, Doubles: Ronald Firbank, Vainglory (Ronald Firbank)
British Bohème, Bohemian twilight (Augustus John)

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18 comments

  1. I love your diagram. I had a particular kinetic reaction to two of the circles.
    Huxley and more to the point Crome Yellow.
    I read the book at eighteen. Much too soon.
    Denham Fouts.
    Was he merely a sphinx without a secret?
    I so want him to be more than that.
    Would it be cheeky of me to create his lost journals or perhaps a cache of his poetry?
    All of your Strange Flowers are in the Secret Garden.
    I would imagine we are there as well.

    • I’d be curious to know if Fouts left anything at all, but I suspect he may well be – as you said – a sphinx without a secret.

      • this from a really well done piece on Fouts from Folio that appeared on 6,12, 2012 by one Richard Wall. It is by far the most fully fleshed portrait of Denny that I have ever read…

        Denny Fouts’ cousin Alice Denham disagrees with accounts that he was on drugs when he died. She says he wasn’t involved in drugs at the end, having taken another cure. A friend saw him right before his death and wrote to Isherwood that Fouts was clean, having shown “extraordinary willpower” in sticking to the treatment.

        “The terrible things said about him are not true — that he was totally dissolute at the end and things like that,” says Denham. “After Denny’s last cure worked, he was supposedly going to come home to write. He sent a bunch of manuscript pages to his mother, and then he died of a heart attack. She read it, discovered he was gay, and burnt every page. I know that happened.”

        Visiting Denny Fouts’ grave in Rome years later, Michael Wishart wondered, “What had become of the scorpion tattooed on his groin that I had kissed so many times?” He fretted that “the plain grave looked so cold and just as so often when Denham had passed out, I used to pull the covers over him, so I longed to spread across his grave a blanket of his favorite primroses.

        “But,” Wishart continued, “I left his grave as I found it: bleak, forsaken, separated from the rest. And a long, long way from Jacksonville, Florida.”

        Richard Wall

        themail@folioweekly.com

      • Incredible! Thanks so much for that (for anyone else reading this, you can find the article here) There’s a lot to take in but that’s great news that there’s a book coming out next year. The image of Denny standing there with mice running all over him…shooting flaming arrows onto the Champs-Elysées from the Bowles’ apartment…surely someone will make a movie out of this?

  2. Magnificent! Might I suggest there be a bubble added for the girl guides? (I’ve just been back to read the ‘The double life of Even Morgan post,’ you see. Almost made me forgive him for flirting with Nazis.)

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  11. “Nancy [Cunard] used to talk about the ‘circles’ by which people who had known each other knew others who also later knew the first circles through outside figures, one tying up to another so that in the recollections of one with her memory they were like concentrics in a modern graphic drawing.” – Janet Flanner in a 1969 letter

    You think like a Cunard! (I mean this in the best possible way.)

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