GAY PRIDE MONTH; Day Eighteen, Special Guest Sean Kennedy

Sean Kennedy is an author from Dreamspinner Press that I’ve actually never met, sad to say. I’ve hardly talked to him online as he’s pretty shy. Why even his profile picture is one of those that you can identify a shy man right away. No, I only really know Sean from his writing and…wow…. I hardly know what else to say.

Some years ago I was in the hospital for nearly two weeks. It was an awful situation, but despite that, there were many blessings. I got a lot closer to my mom for one thing. She actually read to me in the hospital! Not MM books, but I hadn’t been read to since I was a child and it was a wonderful experience.

Another thing that happened was that Elizabeth North, the head of Dreamspinner Press, did a very sweet thing. She bought me a half dozen MM romances and sent them to me. And one of them was Tigers and Devils by Sean Kennedy. To say I was captured from that first chapter is an understatement. I’ve read it more than once.

So to say I was thrilled when Sean agreed to do one of my guest posts for my blog’s celebration of Fifty Years of Gay Pride is another understatement. It’s a good one too. One of my favorites. It got me pretty emotional.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. And thank you Sean! Thank you so much.
And Happy Pride!



by Sean Kennedy

The thing about Pride is that sometimes it falters. You think you have a pretty strong sense of it but it doesn’t take much for it to be taken away from you again.

For me, it was back when my country’s government subjected queer people to a public vote on what they really thought about us, and whether we should be granted the right to marry.

It didn’t take long for the outright bigots, the quiet bigots, and the bigots who thought they had to hide being bigots until being given a public mandate to say what they really wanted to say, to start exposing themselves loudly – and, dare I say it, proudly.

I am not exaggerating when I say that every single news bulletin had something on the same-sex referendum, and in the supposed spirit of ‘equality’ thought that meant bigotry got an equal slice of the air time.

Suddenly we were being reminded just how many people out there didn’t like us.

It’s not like we had really forgotten. But perhaps we had become a little complacent.

And here’s the thing. When you start being told again, on a daily basis, that you’re a threat to children, a threat to society as a whole, that you’re degenerate, that your very existence should be kept on the down low, it really starts to seep into your skin. It reawakens that niggling little voice within you that says, hey buddy, they’re right. Self-internalized homophobia, that old friend of yore, is back to party.

I know of many people, myself and my friends included, who were crippled by self-doubt and self-hate again. Some who discovered family members emboldened by the referendum suddenly telling them that they just weren’t entitled to the same rights as everybody else. Old wounds were reopened. It really didn’t take much for the scars to bleed.

But something else happened as well. For the first time I put a rainbow flag sticker on my car. There had always been a little part of me who was too scared to do so. Who remembered being a teenager during the worst years of the AIDS crisis when gay people were feared and vilified, and had to watch television ads where AIDS sufferers were graphically bowled over by the Grim Reaper. One of my best friends, of the same age, also did the same in the window of her business. It was the first time she had ever done something so permanent and public as well.

So pride can stumble. But in the face of adversity, pride can come back even stronger.

We won the referendum in the end, despite everything the government tried to do to make it fail.

Keep Proud, everybody.
Sean Kennedy


About Sean Kennedy

Sean Kennedy was born in 1975 in Melbourne, Australia, but currently lives in the second most isolated city in the world and thinks there are thylacines still out in the wild.

He is a disciple of cult leader David Lynch and is glad he lived long enough to see the return of Twin Peaks.

He is the author of one of the best-selling and well known MM novels Tigers and Devils.

Tigers on the Way

Sequel to Tigers on the Run

Documentary producer Simon and ex-footballer Declan are taking some big steps toward a lasting life together. They’ve bought a house, and they’ll need it for the family they plan to start. Their friend, Nyssa, has made the generous offer to be their surrogate, and Declan couldn’t be more excited about the idea of a baby.

Simon knows fatherhood is a huge commitment, and though it’s daunting, he sees how much Dec wants it, and he’s sure that together, they can succeed in anything—despite the worries nagging at him.

But just as their new life is taking shape, a health scare disrupts their plans at the worst possible moment. With time running short, Simon and Dec will have to bare their fears and doubts to each other so they can face them before their world changes forever.

It might mean a literal leap of faith.

Find Tigers and Devils and Tigers on the Run and so many others at Dreamspinner Press by CLICKING HERE or Amazon by CLICKING HERE and all your favorite book sites!


GAY PRIDE MONTH; Day Seventeen, Special Guest Paul Richmond

When I sold my first story to Dreamspinner Press that was going to have its own unique cover, I was told to go and look at other covers and to find those that I liked, that clicked with me, that said, “Now that’s the kind of cover I would like to have!”

I picked at least a half dozen if not more. Guess what? Every one I picked out was done by Paul Richmond! And I was told there would be no problem in getting him to do a cover. Whoa! Then I was contacted by Paul personally and was so happy with the amount of input he let me provide. When he showed me the original cover concept sketch, I was thrilled. It was exactly what I wanted…except for one or two tweaks which he encouraged me to suggest. Then, making me even happier, he not only made them, but said that I have a good eye and that my suggestions did improve the cover.

From that day forward I was in love with his work and asked for one of his covers whenever possible.

Then, I met him! OMG! I fell in love with him!


Not in love with him. But as far as I was concerned, he was my sister for life! We even wound up going to a famous New York drag club called Lips that weekend! Oh, it was so much fun! And I have treasured each and every time I’ve gotten to spend with him since. He is a wonderful man who is not only a sweet and kind and generous and true, but he also provides so much for the community, artistic and GLBT, especially the youth with his We Will Rise movement.

I cherish his friendship and trust that it will last for years. Here now is my dear friend Paul’s contribution to my celebration of 50 Years of Gay Pride. I think you’ll love it. I sure did!

Take it away, Paul…!


The untrained eye might scan me up and down—from the blonde highlights on top, down past a big cheesy grin, perhaps momentarily blinded by light reflecting in waves across a glittery shirt, to gold shoes that belong in Elton John’s closet—and assume that I have always been “proud.” But that’s not true. Twelve-year-old me was not happy about the hand he was dealt.

I grew up in a small town in Ohio called Grove City (close to Columbus but closer to cow pastures). All throughout my young adulthood, I remained in denial about my sexuality for fear of losing the love of my family and the acceptance of my friends. My only sense of what “gay” meant came from a very slanted explanation offered in religion class at the Catholic school I attended. I’ll spare you the details. Let’s just say it was presented as something you did NOT want to be. The word hell came up a lot, and it sounded even worse than gym class—if that was possible. I remember hoping God had bigger fish to fry and wouldn’t notice me stealthily flipping through The Little Mermaid paper doll book at the toy store to the Prince Eric page so I could see him in his underwear. Why would anybody cut out the little cartoon clothes and put them on that fine hunk of a man?

I stayed closeted through college, experimenting on occasion but always managing to almost-convince myself that it didn’t count. After graduating, I spent a year painting murals with my friend Melissa. One evening I was perusing the fiction rack at a local bookstore and happened upon a collection of short stories. Included was one called “Scordatura,” by Mark Ray Lewis. The story, about a gay male character, was written in the second person, meaning that instead of referring to him as “he,” the author wrote “you.” What an effect this had on me! By the end of the story, I realized that it really was me. A light bulb flicked on and the next day, I revealed to a very un-surprised Melissa that I was gay, just like the character in the story. Perhaps she wasn’t shocked by my revelation because of the gigantic mural of Cher I convinced her to help me paint in my apartment.

It’s almost hard to remember that time because it feels so long ago now. But I still have that book and reading the story takes me right back there. Also, looking at the paintings I made subsequently are windows into that period of my life too. I’m really grateful for all of those experiences, even the painful ones, because I think the challenges we face as queer people in coming to terms with our identities can be incredible opportunities for growth. Coming out made me confront the lies I had been telling myself and everyone around me, and gave me a strong desire to live authentically from that point forward. It’s so easy to fall into a pattern of people-pleasing and going through the motions of your life just trying to get through the day. But what good is that if you have to put a blindfold on yourself that blocks out your own truth? I think that gender and sexuality should not be assumed about anyone and we should all have the opportunity to figure out who we are on our own terms and using whatever label(s) we like best.

Today I’m living a life that twelve-year-old me could never have imagined. I have a wonderful husband who is the perfect complement to me in every way (and bears a striking resemblance to the Prince Eric of my childhood fantasies!). We were married on the steps of the US Supreme Court before that very institution had even decided that we should be allowed to do such a thing. I get to make art that is genuine and share it with people all over the world. And I have the honor of playing a small part in helping bring works of queer fiction to more readers through my role as Associate Art Director at Dreamspinner Press. Maybe even some young readers who are as confused as I was and need to read these stories so they can better understand themselves. I shudder to think how my life might be different if I hadn’t run across the Scordatura story. Would I be married to a woman with a house full of kids working at a job I hated and, perhaps worst of all, not be wearing shiny gold shoes?

A few days ago, I delivered a painting to the Harvey Milk Center in San Francisco for a Pride exhibition honoring the 50-year anniversary of the Stonewall riots. I was floored when I received the message inviting me to be part of the show. So much history all wrapped into one exhibit. Driving up through the city, the view out my windows was a blur of bright colors because of all the rainbow flags hanging everywhere. This is not the same world that the brave people at the Stonewall Inn were living in when they finally decided they’d had enough. It’s not the same world Harvey Milk lived in when he fought to change a system that didn’t want to change. It’s not even the same world that a young Midwestern boy who loved to draw found himself in during the first confusing chunk of his life.

Still, we have a long way to go and I am deeply motivated to carry the torch forward—a torch that was lit by all the brave trailblazers who came before us and must remain lit until it reaches every single member of our community who remains marginalized, mistreated, and discarded to this day.

I am bursting with pride these days. And I want everyone to feel that way too! That’s my wish for all of you this Pride month and all year long. If there’s a closet you’re living in, whatever it may be constructed of and however comfortable you may have become tucked away inside—kick down the door because life’s too short and you are too awesome to stay hidden away in there.

Happy Pride month everyone!
Paul Richmond


About Paul Richmond

Paul Richmond is an internationally recognized visual artist and the Associate Art Director for Dreamspinner Press. His career has included exhibitions in galleries throughout the United States, and he has created cover illustrations for over four hundred published novels.

Paul began the Cheesecake Boys series in 2008, and he has kept busy concocting creative new ways to get men out of their clothes ever since.

He and his husband Dennis live in Monterrey, California, with two mischievous whippets.

Find Paul’s wonderful xxx coloring book at Dreamspinner Press by CLICKING HERE or visit his amazing website by CLICKING HERE

And here is a small gallery of some of his (and my) favorite pieces!

Zero at the Bone

from Paul’s Warpaint series, “His Darkness”

Spring Affair

This cover is very special to me! In many ways the story was inspired by Paul and when I asked if he would consider painting himself on the cover, he said yes! I was thrilled! And his husband agreed to be the “grumble monkey” as well!
(by the way, Dennis is very sweet and not a grumble monkey at all!)

Woke Up In a Strange Place


Prince's Psalm

Hound Dog and Bean


One of my favorite childhood memories happened because Dad kept his word when I “conned him” into letting me choose our family vacation that year.

GAY PRIDE MONTH; Day Sixteen, Pride Music II

On June 4th, I posted my first Gay Pride anthem. At least it was an anthem for me,and I am betting it was for quite a few other people as well. It comes from the pilot episode of Showtime’s version of Queer As Folk, and it’s Heather Small’s Proud. I love that song! It stirs my heart! It stirs my feelings of self-worth and joy and…pride.

Today’s is quite possibly my favorite Pride song. Sadly it’s difficult to find even a half decent version of the video. I wish I knew why it doesn’t seem to exist. I’ve chosen to give you one of the only half-decent versions because the music is still terrific. And the lyrics are amazing. I love them so much.

I hope you enjoy Johnna’s Pride!


lyrics by Gary Miller, Paul Barry, Steve Torch and Pete Waterman

You gotta have Pride
Don’t be ashamed
Our Love is the same
I got Pride
I am what I am
I’m taking a stand
I got Pride

Once I was lonely
Once I was scared
Felt like no one in the world ever cared
But I grew stronger, day by day
Had to keep on searching till I found my way

So take my hand
Divided we fall
Together we stand
Don’t turn away
tomorrow will be a day

You gotta have Pride
Don’t be ashamed
Our love is the same
I got Pride
I am what I am
I’m taking a stand
I got Pride

There was some bad days
I was so blue
But through all my troubles
I pulled myself through
I just kept believing
That I’d be okay
I knew in my heart I would make it someday

So take my hand
Divided we fall
Together we stand
Don’t turn away
Tomorrow will be a day

You gotta have Pride
Don’t be ashamed
Our love is the same
I got Pride
I am what I am
I’m taking a stand

You gotta have Pride
Don’t be ashamed
Our love is the same
I got Pride
I am what I am
I’m taking a stand
I got Pride

Pride Pride Pride
Give me some Pride
Pride Pride Pride

So take my hand
Divided we fall
Together We Stand

Don’t turn away
tomorrow will be a day

You gotta have Pride
Don’t be ashamed
Our love is the same
I got Pride
I am what I am
I’m taking a stand
You gotta have Pride
Don’t be ashamed
Our love is the same
I got Pride
I am what I am
I’m taking a stand
I got Pride

Favorite Quotes from the New “Tales of the City” #1

Carlin: You know the gays have always made spaces for the freaks and weirdos….

Claire: That was great…. Just “freaks” and “weirdos” are kind of judgy words. So, um…let’s do another take and this time say…”marginalized outsiders” instead.

Carlin: Okay…um…. How about I say, uh… “Go f*ck yourself”? Or should I say, “Go have tender union with your own body parts”?

GAY PRIDE MONTH; Day Fifteen, Special Guest Andrew Grey

I have a “history” with Andrew Grey. First of all, his book, Love Means…No Shame, was one of the very first MM romances I ever read, and it was the first MM romance I read written by a man. Then, a year or so later, when I went to the first Dreamspinner Press Author’s Workshop, he was my room mate! It was amazing. There I was, rooming with the Andrew Grey, already one of the best selling MM writers there was. And best of all, he was just a regular guy. And a really sweet one too.

He made me feel so welcome, such a part of things, such a part of the Dreamspinner Family, and I will never forget it!

As you can imagine, I was pretty happy when he agreed to be a part of my celebration of Fifty Years of Gay Pride. And his story is sweet. I think you’ll like it.

Thank you for joining in Andrew! And Happy Pride!


My First Pride

by Andrew Grey

I remember my very first Pride celebration. It was in 1994 and it happened to be the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising. Dominic and I went together. It was held at one of the parks at Milwaukee’s lakefront and Dominic and I marched in the parade hand in hand. I remember feeling quite free surrounded by all the other people. One special thing about that parade was that the Grand Marshalls were two men who had taken part in Stonewall. Dominic and I spent a lot of time speaking with friends and talking with people we didn’t know. It was a party and it was a safe space back then.

Things were very different then than they are now…and yet they weren’t. There were wedding ceremonies. They weren’t legal, but that didn’t diminish the excitement and love. There were booths selling flags and pride gear, just like any Pride Celebration today. There was energy and vitality just like today and unfortunately, there was fear…a lot more than at most Pride events that are held today. (But then maybe not)

In a lot of ways, we have come a long way in twenty-five years, more than I ever thought would happen. And yet in some ways, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Just watch the news if you need any examples. The kids of today have advantages that I didn’t those years ago. I had to blaze my own trail, just mike many of us did. And I can happily say that I would do it all over again

Happy Pride Month!
Andrew Grey


About Andrew GreyAndrew Grey is the author of nearly 100 works of Contemporary Gay Romantic fiction. After twenty-seven years in corporate America, he has now settled down in Central Pennsylvania with his husband, Dominic, and his laptop. An interesting ménage. Andrew grew up in western Michigan with a father who loved to tell stories and a mother who loved to read them. Since then he has lived throughout the country and traveled throughout the world. He is a recipient of the RWA Centennial Award, has a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and now writes full-time. Andrew’s hobbies include collecting antiques, gardening, and leaving his dirty dishes anywhere but in the sink (particularly when writing). He considers himself blessed with an accepting family, fantastic friends, and the world’s most supportive and loving partner. Andrew currently lives in beautiful, historic Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

On Shaky Ground

Martin Graham built his business from the ground up with hard work and intuition. Due to a degenerative eye disease, he’s learned to rely on his other senses to feel out the competition. To realize his dream, he just needs to broker one last deal… and finally secure an assistant.
Brock Littleton is desperate for money—desperate enough take the job no one else wants: assistant to demanding, fussy, intensely private Mr. Graham.

Everything about Brock gets under Martin’s skin in ways he never expected, making him realize a successful business isn’t the only component to a happy future. But as Martin’s deal comes together, one of the prices could be the relationship with Brock that Martin is just starting to believe could be real.

Second Edition
First Edition published in Boundless Love Anthology by Andrew Grey, 2018.

Find On Shaky Ground and many more of his books at Dreamspinner Press by CLICKING HERE or Amazon by CLICKING HERE and all your favorite book sites!

And you can find his website right here!:

GAY PRIDE MONTH; Day Fourteen, Special Guest Brad Boney

Back in late 2012, early 2013, my attention was caught by a MM Romance books called The Nothingness of Ben. Imagine a title like that catching my attention! So, I bought it, and then I not only read it, I consumed it. What a great book! I immediately wrote him and told him how much I loved it and was pleased when he took the time to write me back.

My only sadness when it comes to Mr. Boney is that he isn’t a very fast writer. But when each new book comes out, I jump on it right away, and find each to join my list of favorite MM books.

So as you can imagine, I was pretty happy when he said he would take up the mantle of Guest Post, and tell me what he thinks of Gay Pride. And I warn you, it isn’t quite the upbeat piece as some of the others have been. On the other hand, it takes caution and anger and fear to keep the cause marching forward. We cannot become complacent! We have to keep marching! And in this essay, Brad keeps on marching. And warning!

Thank you, Brad, for taking the time to join my celebration here on my blog for Gay Pride. And thank you for being honest.

BG “Ben” Thomas


Beyond Pride

by Brad Boney

Among the memoirs and think pieces written about Pride, most will be upbeat. If Pride was only an exercise in looking backward, I would be upbeat too. After all, the queer movement has gone from raids on bars to marriage equality in 50 years. That’s impressive.

But my thinking has always been shaped by the storytelling around me. My initial attitude toward romance was molded by the epic heartache of The Way We Were. My views on genre fiction changed completely when I saw Scream. And I had to rethink how I portray gay men in fiction after watching the movies of Marco Berger. My take on Stonewall 50 is no different.

This past weekend, I binged all ten episodes of the new Tales of the City on Netflix. If you’re familiar with the books by Armisted Maupin and the PBS/Showtime TV shows that followed, then you get pretty much what you paid for. It’s a multigenerational story that falls neatly into the “upbeat” category. Michael Tolliver is now 54 (although played by an actor who’s 48) and dating a guy half his age. The original always struggled to balance the contrasting tones of fairy tale, adventure, and realistic urban life, and the reboot suffers from the same problem. I liked it, but it lives inside a bubble that the outside world never pierces.

That is not the case across the pond. Russell T Davies, the Brit who created Queer As Folk, has a new show called Years and Years. It’s currently airing in the UK (in the US on HBO starting June 24). Set in Manchester, England, it follows the Lyons family 15 years into the future.

And holy hell, it’s bleak AF.

The gay storyline is achored by Daniel (played by Looking hunk Russell Tovey), who begins an affair with Ukranian refugee Viktor (Maxim Baldry). In 2024, the world’s border crisis has gone from bad to worse. Daniel and Viktor’s happiness isn’t threatened by anything conventional. No, instead they’re dealing with a geo-political nightmare and the immigration policies of extremists. Russell T Davies imagines a future filled with difficulty and uncertainty for everyone, but especially for queers. Are they even celebrating Pride in his version of the future?

It’s possible for two truths to exist simultaneously. I was happy to slide into a bubble for ten hours and revisit Barbary Lane. It was nice. But I can also see what’s coming, and on days when I can handle it, I admit to myself that Russell T Davies is probably right. Things may get bad again, really bad, and if they do, the challenges of the next few decades will make the AIDS crisis look like a walk in the park.

Happy Pride!
Brad Boney


About Brad Boney

“I struggle every day to tell authentic stories that people want to read. I may only succeed a small percentage of the time, but that’s not the point. For me, the struggle alone is a massive achievement.”

Brad Boney lives in Austin, Texas, the seventh gayest city in America. He grew up in the Midwest and went to school at NYU. He lived in Washington, DC, and Houston before settling in Austin. He blames his background in the theater for his writing style, which he calls “dialogue and stage directions.” His first book was named a Lambda Literary Award finalist.

He believes the greatest romantic comedy of all time is 50 First Dates. His favorite gay film of the last ten years is Strapped. And he has never met a boy band he didn’t like. He’s an Excel guru by day and plays a mean game of Euchre.

The Nothingness of Ben

Ben Walsh is well on his way to becoming one of Manhattan’s top litigators, with a gorgeous boyfriend and friends on the A-list. His life is perfect until he gets a phone call that brings it all crashing down: a car accident takes his parents, and now he must return to Austin to raise three teenage brothers he barely knows.

During the funeral, Ben meets Travis Atwood, the redneck neighbor with a huge heart. Their relationship initially runs hot and cold, from contentious to flirtatious, but when the weight of responsibility starts wearing on Ben, he turns to Travis, and the pressure shapes their friendship into something that feels a lot like love. Ben thinks he’s found a way to have his old life, his new life, and Travis too, but love isn’t always easy. Will he learn to recognize that sometimes the worst thing imaginable can lead him to the place he was meant to be?

Find The Nothingness of Ben and many more of his books at Dreamspinner Press by CLICKING HERE or Amazon by CLICKING HERE and all your favorite book sites!

GAY PRIDE MONTH; Day Thirteen, Student Unearths Long Lost Gay Love Poem

Here are two lovely little re-posts from the Queerty and Guardian websites/blogs. I was looking for a few breaks in the guest posts, and I thought this was beautiful. I love it as a sign of previous times for gay people, how difficult it was, and how far we’ve come since then and since the Stonewall Uprising. I hope you enjoy it!

And if you’d rather, you can find the original post RIGHT HERE

Happy Pride!
BG “Ben” Thomas

Student Unearths Long Lost Gay Love Poem from Famous Writer to Young Lover

by David Reddish, for Queerty

Well, here’s a perfectly timed Pride discovery.

A student in the UK has uncovered a lost love poem by celebrated British poet Siegfried Sassoon, written to his boyfriend Glen Byam Shaw.

Julian Richards discovered the poem while researching Sassoon at Cambridge University. The poem itself consists of eight lines, written in 1925 about a night together with Shaw and how much Sassoon missed him. Richards says the poem was written when Sassoon was 39 and Shaw 20, while Shaw pursued a career in theatre. He would go on to become one of the most treasured British thespians of the 20th century, acting on stage to wide acclaim and directing friends like John Gielgud, Albert Finny & Charles Laughton to great success.

Upon Richards’ discovery of the poem, The Guardian published it for the first time.

It reads:

Though you have left me, I’m not yet alone:

For what you were befriends the firelit room;

And what you said remains & is my own

To make a living gladness of my gloom

The firelight leaps & shows your empty chair

And all our harmonies of speech are stilled:

But you are with me in the voiceless air

My hands are empty, but my heart is filled.

Sassoon biographer Jean Moorcroft Wilson claims the poem has remained totally unknown up until now. “What is important is that it’s written at a time when Sassoon believed that poetry had forsaken him,” Wilson says of the discovery. “He finds it very difficult to write poetry in the 1920s. He’s been so successful as a war poet that he doesn’t really quite know where his poetry lies. He’s sort of grasping for a subject.”

Sassoon penned the poem at a time when homosexuality remained illegal in the UK.

And here is an even better article from The Guardian:

Student Discovers Lost Siegfried Sassoon Poem to Young Lover

Heartfelt handwritten lines from the war poet ‘fell into the lap’ of researcher who was trawling through theatre director’s letters
by Dalya Alberge for The Guardian

It is a poem of only eight lines, but those lines are filled with tender emotion for a young man who was the author’s lover. The words are all the more poignant as the poem dates from a time – the 1920s – when he could never have written openly of homosexual love.

The previously unknown love poem is by Siegfried Sassoon, one of the greatest war poets, and is being published for the first time today in the Observer.

Half a century after Sassoon’s death, the untitled poem was discovered by Julian Richards, 26, a PhD student at Warwick University who was researching Glen Byam Shaw, to whom it was dedicated. Sassoon was then 39 and Shaw 20. A day after their first dinner together, Sassoon was already full of yearning for his young lover: “Though you have left me, I’m not yet alone:/ For what you were befriends the firelit room …”

Richards was sifting through hundreds of letters held by Cambridge University library when he came across one dated 24 October 1925. It contained a hand-written poem, and he was struck by its “heartfelt and personal” lines, with underlinings that emphasised emotions.

He said: “Sassoon writes in the letter of Shaw spending the evening before with him, before saying that he wrote a few lines, which he himself doesn’t seem to think of highly, for Shaw.”

Intrigued, Richards tried in vain to find any trace of the poem elsewhere. Now the leading Sassoon expert has confirmed that it is unpublished.

Jean Moorcroft Wilson, author of the acclaimed biography, Siegfried Sassoon: Soldier, Poet, Lover, Friend, said: “I haven’t seen it before. What is important is that it’s written at a time when Sassoon believed that poetry had forsaken him. He finds it very difficult to write poetry in the 1920s. He’s been so successful as a war poet that he doesn’t really quite know where his poetry lies. He’s sort of grasping for a subject.”

Richards said that it was “incredibly exciting” to find an unpublished poem by such a great writer – a poet and novelist, best known for his antiwar poetry, such as “The Old Huntsman” (1917) and “Counter-Attack” (1918). Sassoon conveyed the brutality of war with shocking realism. Twice wounded, he received the Military Cross for bravery, but he wrote of hurling it into the River Mersey. He underwent psychiatric treatment and struggled to settle into civilian life. In his later years, his poetry was increasingly devotional.

Moorcroft Wilson said of the love poem: “I have no doubt that it’s about Glen Byam Shaw. It’s very much like the poems that Sassoon wrote to his first lover after the war, Gabriel Atkin, although the results of that relationship were very different. Glen was a very nice person, really kind and imaginative, and didn’t treat Sassoon like dirt and wasn’t unfaithful.”

The poem was a reminder of how difficult life was for him at a time when “homosexuality was very much forbidden”, she said. “Certainly for people he knew, it would be quite obvious that it wasn’t a woman he was talking about in the poem. The two men had been introduced a year earlier, but this was the first time they got together alone. This is written after the first really intimate evening together. Was this when they first made love?”

She added that Sassoon’s love poetry to men “tends to be non-specific”, that he pretends to have been writing to a woman in a poem such as “The Imperfect Lover”, but it was in fact inspired by Atkin because he had sent it to Atkin.

She observed that a line such as “you are with me in the voiceless air” was typical of Sassoon with its “rather nebulous, mysterious feeling”.

The relationship with Shaw ended amicably. They remained close friends, each eventually finding a wife, although Sassoon’s marriage broke down.

Richards noted that their correspondence reflected affection and respect. He pointed to one of Shaw’s 1939 letters, written while waiting to be called up: “Shaw is very much saying I’m terrified, I only hope I will be brave like you were. Then later, one of the letters says, the brigadier of my regiment remembers you and speaks incredibly highly of you.”

Shaw, who made his London debut as an actor in 1925, became a leading director, working with Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh, among others, at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Richards’s research has taken him to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford, which holds Shaw’s directorial notebooks, among other material. He went to the Cambridge archive in search of Shaw’s letters.

The Sassoon poem “fell into my lap”, he said. “I wasn’t looking at Sassoon. I was looking at Shaw.”

Professor Carol Rutter, Richards’s PhD supervisor at Warwick, said: “More students need to go into archives and find out what they contain. What’s really exciting as a supervisor is to have a student who will follow their nose and then have that tremendously exciting moment when something falls in their lap. It is an instant communication with the past. But it’s also the beginning of the next question that you want to ask.”

Of the poem, she added: “I love its understatedness, its quietness, its gentleness. You’re gone, but somehow you’re still present is just very resonant.”

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