Media statement on Felbrigg’s ‘The Unfinished Portrait’ film

Many of our places were home to, and shaped by, people who challenged conventional ideas of gender and sexuality.

We are proud to share a fuller portrait of Robert Wyndham Ketton-Cremer and do not attach shame to his sexuality. The people we interviewed were clear that we weren’t ‘outing’ him because amongst those who knew him, this was widely accepted.

Professor Richard Sandell, of the University of Leicester which has worked in partnership with the Trust on the project, said:

“I would strongly argue that we cannot perpetuate the values and attitudes of the past. You would only continue to conceal these truths if there was still a stigma attached to being gay. It is important to people today that we talk openly – just as we do about the personal lives of people who were heterosexual.

“We discovered so much more to Robert Wyndham Ketton-Cremer than what we know. He’s a well-known biographer of Thomas Gray and Robert Walpole, and discussed their same-sex desires in an open and honest way.

“But we also found beautifully written poetry, love poetry, from his time at Oxford when he was just 19 years old. We get a sense that it was difficult to be who he was. We know he would’ve been aware of what happened to people who were found to be homosexual, and that would be a difficult, if not terrifying, prospect.”

As a renowned researcher who studied and published biographies of important literary persons in the past with integrity, he would most likely have known that future research on his works, life and times might be studied and published, many of which were included in his bequest to the National Trust.

We think Stephen Fry summaries it quite well…

“Some have asked why this is necessary – why the lives of people who challenged conventional ideas of gender and sexuality should be made public and celebrated in this way. The answer is quite simple – to do anything less is to suggest that same-sex love and gender diversity is somehow wrong, and keeping these stories hidden only lets prejudice – past and present – go unchallenged.”

This is the link to the film. https://youtu.be/pdgaAdhapoc

Details of the National Trust’s Prejudice and Pride programme can be found at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/prejudiceandpride

 

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