How Time and Circumstances Changed Context of 1870 Novel by Kennett Square’s Bayard Taylor

By
Bayard Taylor
Image via Library of Congress.
Bayard Taylor.

Time and circumstances often change the way we look at things, and this turned especially true for a book penned by Kennett Square author, Bayard Taylor, and the way we see the author’s private life, writes Mark Dixon for Main Line Today

Taylor published Joseph and His Friend: A Story of Pennsylvania to little success in 1870. Since then, some historians have declared it America’s first gay novel. 

Taylor, who had published several successful travel books, was engaged to his high-school sweetheart Mary Agnew for six years, a curiously long time for that era. This is often used as evidence of Taylor’s homosexuality. 

They had been married just for two months when she died in 1850. However, Taylor later married another woman and lived with her for 20 years. 

When Joseph and His Friend was published, it was prefaced by a dedication to “those who believe in the truth and tenderness of man’s love for man, as of man’s love for woman.” 

It is still hard to say for sure whether he was gay or if his book was a reflection of the many cultures he met during his travels. 

Read more about Bayard Taylor in Main Line Today

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