LITERATURE

Men in Eden: William Drummond Stewart and Same-Sex Desire in the Rocky Mountain Fur Trade

. October 2012. 384p. 978-0-80323-778-0. 29.95.
COPY ISBN
William Drummond Stewart (1795–1871) was a Scottish nobleman and soldier, a Byronic dandy who left his home for the New World, where he led the life of an adventurer in the Rocky Mountains. In this, the first major biography of Stewart in almost 50 years, Benemann (archivist, Boalt Hall Law Sch. Lib.; Male-Male Intimacy in Early America: Beyond Romantic Friendships) adds a shade of lavender to this colorful character. Focusing primarily on Stewart’s seven years in America, the author skillfully interweaves a portrait of the outwardly macho world of the Rocky Mountain fur trappers, whose work was ideally suited to “confirmed bachelors,” and a study of the influence of Native Americans who not merely accepted but ritualized homosexuality. In this almost all-male subculture, Stewart found surcease from hidebound 19th-century society, maintaining same-sex relationships with surprising candor.
VERDICT Given the dearth of explicit source material, Benemann, as in his previous book, does a lot of conjecturing and inferring, parsing Stewart’s letters and two novels for coded homoeroticism, but as in the earlier work, the results are utterly convincing. An engaging contribution to LGBT history; highly recommended.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.


RELATED 

Get connected. Join our global community of more than 200,000 librarians and educators.