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Sunday, 4 November 2012

Joseph Randolph Ackerley U.K.

b. November 4, 1896
d. June 4, 1967

Joe was born in Herne Hill, London, the second son of Roger and Netta, brother to Nancy Ackerley, his father was a prosperous businessman, his mother an actress. He studied law at Cambridge University. While he was a young man in the Guards, he also had experience as a male prostitute.

In WWI he was wounded and taken prisoner; this experience became the basis for his only play, The Prisoner of War. There are not explicit gay references in the play, but it is obvious that two of the prisoner were homosexual. This play influenced other gay writers, especially E.M. Forster, thus began their life long friendship, one of the most important relationship for both of them.

Ackerley is best remembered as an editor.
From 1935 until 1959, Joe Randolph Ackerley edited The Listener, BBC's weekly literature and arts journal, so skillfully and so eclectically, that he came to be recognized as "one of the most brilliant editors of his generation." Under his editorship, the journal counted not only E. M. Forster, Virginia Woolf, Herbert Read, and Clive Bell among its regular contributors, but also such new talents as W. H. Auden, Christopher Isherwood, and Stephen Spender. Spender commented that Ackerley "cared immensely about what books were reviewed--and by whom--and what poems he published. He encouraged young writers."

His best known work is My Father and Myself, which was described by Truman Capote as "the most original autobiography I have ever read" and by Diana Trilling as "the simplest, most directly personal report of what it is like to be a homosexual that . . . has yet been published."


The Prisoners of War (1925)

Hindoo Holiday: An Indian Journal (1932)
My Dog Tulip: Life with an Alsatian (1956)
We Think the World of You (1960)
Letters from Japan (1960)
My Father and Myself (1968)
Michael Dever & Other Poems (1972)
My Sister and Myself(1982)

Source: Aldrich R. & Wotherspoon G., Who's Who in Contemporary Gay and Lesbian History, Routledge, London, 2001, via

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