Thin Ice by Compton Mackenzie

TI(Not discussed by the group but written in a personal capacity.)

I thought that this was a thinly veiled book about Lord Tom Driberg. However, it was written before a lot of Driberg’s story became widely known so it’s also based on other politicians. By the time he was writing this, the author came to believe that homosexuality was ‘based on wrong choices.’

The author said: I began to study the phenomenon of homosexuality and was amazed to discover that so far from being the sign of a decadent society it was conspicuously prevalent in England during the first quarter of the eighteenth century when the national vigour was at its height. If the penalty of death was no deterrent then, what effective deterrent could the law devise to-day? … One day at my club I heard a top-notch Treasury counsel aver his belief that three-quarters of the male suicides in England were due to blackmail for homosexual offences. I was appalled. Yet I have to confess with shame that I remained silent because I fancied that if I showed too much TI 2interest I should be suspected of habits that exposed me to the possibility of being blackmailed myself.

Once considered a promising politician, Fortescue’s career suffers as his homosexuality becomes known.

The real life labour politician discovered anglo-catholicism and cottaging during the same weekend. He was well-know to the police but the establishment covered everything up so that he never got prosecuted.


‘Perhaps it was strange that George Gaymer should have become a friend of Henry Fortescue at Oxford in the last years of the nineteenth century. Politically they were poles TI 3apart. Henry, already president of the Union, had a brilliant future ahead of him; George was good-hearted but mediocre. Above all, Henry was a homosexual, George was not. Yet George’s loyal friendship stood many test across more than forty years, and was reliable when that of Henry’s own kind proved transitory or even treacherous.’

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