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The Sexual Tensions of William Sharp

A Study of the Birth of Fiona Macleod, Incorporating Two Lost Works, "Ariadne in Naxos</I> and "Beatrice</I>


Terry L. Meyers and College of William and Mary

By the time he died in 1905, the Scottish writer William Sharp had succeeded as critic, biographer, poet, and novelist. Writing secretly, he also achieved fame as Fiona Macleod, a poet singled out by Yeats for «her» role in the Celtic revival. Two important lost works bearing on Sharp's creation of Fiona Macleod are printed here for the first time - Ariadne in Naxos, a tragedy inspired in part by Swinburne's Atalanta in Calydon, and Beatrice, an idyllic poem. The author introduces both works in the context of Sharp's life, showing how they highlight the sexual uncertainties Sharp felt as he contemplated marriage and how they foreshadow the birth of Fiona Macleod during the 1890's, the period when Sharp himself suffers a sexual identity crisis. Meyers uses gay and gender studies to examine Sharp's place in the late Victorian crucible for modern constructions of sexual roles.