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Bruce Chatwin

Has he ever had a thread devoted to him?

He was a novelist (UTZ, ON THE BLACK HILL) and travel writer (IN PATAGONIA, THE SONGLINES) who also moved in society in the UK. He was supposedly so handsome that conversation would stop when he came into a room, but I've never seen this in the photos of him (where he looks just good-looking but fairly ordinary--I've linked the handsomest photo of him I could find). He was married to a woman but their relations were celibate; in reality he was gay. He was supposedly one of the first men in the UK to contract AIDS.

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by Anonymousreply 2201/13/2013

There's a good biography on him: "Chatwin" by Nicholas Shakespeare.

"Sexually, Chatwin was gay to the point of festive but would sleep with women if the opportunity presented itself. He was also married for 23 years to a woman he genuinely loved in his fashion. Shakespeare explains the contradiction -- Chatwin compartmentalized -- his marriage was his vital anchor, his sexual life was lived in a completely different realm."

by Anonymousreply 102/07/2011

Chatwin claimed he was given the AIDS virus by Sam Wagstaff, the wealthy patron and lover of Robert Mapplethorpe.

I am surprised we don't talk about Chatwin more; he led a fascinating life, was a magnificent writer, and was apparently quite the little ho.

by Anonymousreply 202/07/2011

Actually, my impression was that he consistently denied he had AIDS at all, and insisted it was some rare bacteria he'd picked up in China or something equally absurd.

by Anonymousreply 302/07/2011

R3, you're right, he did deny it. I'm surprised that he had it for so long. Wikipedia has that he became positive in 1980 but he only died in 1989:

"Around 1980, Chatwin contracted HIV. Chatwin told different stories about how he contracted the virus, such as that he was gang-raped in Dahomey, and that he believed he caught the disease from Sam Wagstaff, the patron and lover of photographer Robert Mapplethorpe.He was one of the first high-profile people in Britain to have the disease. Although he hid the illness %E2%80%93 passing off his symptoms as fungal infections or the effects of the bite of a Chinese bat, a typically exotic cover story %E2%80%93 it was a poorly kept secret. He did not respond well to AZT, and suffered increasing bouts of psychosis. With his condition deteriorating rapidly, Chatwin and his wife went to live in the South of France at the house belonging to Shirley Conran, the mother of his one-time lover, Jasper Conran. There, during his final months, Chatwin was nursed by both his wife and Shirley Conran. He died in Nice in 1989 at age 48."

by Anonymousreply 402/08/2011

[quote]He was supposedly so handsome that conversation would stop when he came into a room, but I've never seen this in the photos of him (where he looks just good-looking but fairly ordinary)

Ive thought the same thing for years - there seems to be some disconnect. The photos don't bear out the story of his extreme beauty. Perhaps one would have to be in his presence...

However, his travel writing is beautiful, entertaining, mysterious, and surreal. He is always running into people (let's say a Peruvian on the London Subway who knows someone in Patagonia - I can't recall) who are somehow the key to the next fork-in-the-road that leads to his destination.

I've read the Shakespeare biography, and all of his books, and as a traveler and student of archeology, long for more. But, they are not forthcoming.

by Anonymousreply 502/08/2011

To Brits, of course he would be deemed attractive! Have you seen the messes that make up their population?

Chatwin was bisexual, not full on gay.

by Anonymousreply 602/08/2011

"The great diarist James Lees-Milne, a Gloucestershire neighbour, was clear-headed and sceptical about Chatwin too. %E2%80%9CI have seldom met a human being who exudes so much sex appeal with so comparatively little niceness.%E2%80%9D He called him a %E2%80%9Cfallen angel%E2%80%9D and, after his death, remembered himself nearly going to bed with him one night. %E2%80%9CHe admitted that he would never decline to sleep with any male or female if pressed, but only once. Nonce with me.%E2%80%9D"

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by Anonymousreply 702/08/2011

I too am surprised DL has never applied its jeweller's eyeglass to Chatwin. He knew Everyone (from Jackie O and Mrs Vreeland upwards), went Everywhere, and wrote well. Good photographer too.

His attractiveness was possibly overstated because publishing, like politics, isn't overstocked with Adonises. That, and his famous charm.

Chatwin has been back in the news recently because his Collected Letters have just been published. To coincide BBC4 showed an excellent long documentary about him by his biographer Shakespeare.

by Anonymousreply 802/08/2011

[quote]Chatwin was bisexual, not full on gay.

In his biography of Chatwin, Nicholas Shakespeare says Chatwin called himself bisexual but that there is no evidence he ever had sex with a woman. His relationships with women (including his wife) were entirely chaste.

by Anonymousreply 902/08/2011

I'm reading the beautiful new Penguin Ink edition of Chatwin's ON THE BLACK HILL (see link) and it's terrific--I cannot put it down.

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by Anonymousreply 1002/09/2011

i met him several times in the 70s, we were in the same social swirl. Halston, Warhol, Benny Hill. there were all there. he was much more handsome in person but as with most rich and famous closeted homosexuals of the time, flighty and sometimes rude.

by Anonymousreply 1102/09/2011

Benny Hill?

by Anonymousreply 1202/09/2011

Jasper Conran in the 1980s was a stuck-up stick insect-twink.

BC could have done much better than that!

by Anonymousreply 1302/09/2011

Susie Lee, on her threads, has described Tyrone Power as much like Bruce Chatwin in that anyone they knew and liked, male or female, could have sex with them (but just once) for the asking. But whereas Power did it since he could get people's sexual obsession with him out of the way (he wanted them to still be his friends but he wanted them to stop worrying about getting him into bed), Chatwin seems to have done it as a power thing--he wanted to prove that everyone who knew him wanted to have sex with him.

He's a great writer, but he sounds like he was a bit of a shit (though a charming one) as a human being.

by Anonymousreply 1402/09/2011


by Anonymousreply 1502/14/2011

Has anyone read his Letters? It's edited by his wife so I don't know that there's a lot of juicy gay stuff in them.

by Anonymousreply 1605/08/2011


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by Anonymousreply 1705/08/2011

I reiterate R12's comment. Benny Hill.

Come back, Charlie and explain that.

by Anonymousreply 1805/08/2011

Anymore on Bruce Chatwin, DLers? I've loved his work for years - and have read just about everythingby him. Am reading the collection of his letters "Under the Sun" now. Fascinating (though I think one peobably needs to ahve read some of his work for some of it to make sense - reading the Shakespeare bio helps too) Anyone ever meet his wife Elizabeth? I'd love to send her a note or an e-mail to tell her how much I;ve enjoyed his work and "Under the Sun." Any ideas how to contact her? Any more on Jasper Conran?

by Anonymousreply 1906/21/2011

I absolutely love Songlines. Knew nothing about him when I picked the book up at the airport to have something to read on my long flight. Great writer.

by Anonymousreply 2006/21/2011

"moved in society in the UK."

I didn't even know that was possible.

by Anonymousreply 2106/21/2011

he still is stuck up but no longer a stick insect. In fact he looks like a waxy little roman senator. His manners haven't improved. Conran i mean (clearly).

by Anonymousreply 2201/13/2013
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