The Glamour Boys focuses on MPs such as Ronnie Cartland, Jack Macnamara, Harold Nicolson, Bob Boothby, Victor Cazalet — all homosexual or bisexual, albeit generally discreet — who took on the Chamberlain machine from the backbenches, and the ministers Philip Sassoon and Robert Bernays, who opposed appeasement from within. Many of them were long suspected of harbouring musical inclinations. When Cazalet reminded everyone that he was a bachelor in a speech in 1930, the gossip magazine Bystander miaowed that “as a matter of fact, his double-breasted beige waistcoat told one that”
Nevertheless this speculation opens up rich areas for future research. It’s tantalising to think what caches of love letters and diaries might yet turn up (Barbara Cartland is said to have destroyed her brother’s papers, but you never know). It feels like there’s much more of this period in queer history to come, and that this groundbreaking book is just an important start.
he has done them honour, reminding the world that gay people are every bit as various as heterosexuals. He has handled the difficult form of group biography skilfully, using a great deal of never before published material, and introducing us to a number of little known figures, notably Cartland and the gallant and dashing Macnamara. The one thing Bryant is unable to explore is the intimate lives of these people, because they avoided at all costs confiding their emotional and indeed carnal experiences to paper, so neither letters nor diaries give us even glimpses of their deepest feelings.