Edward Carpenter

Image credit: National Portrait Gallery, London

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Writer and advocate of libertarian beliefs; after a brief career at Cambridge, worked as a University Extension lecturer in the north of England; settled at Millthorpe, Derbyshire, 1883, where he combined his literary work with the simple life of market gardening and sandal-making. Influenced by Whitman and Socialism, Carpenter's works include Towards Democracy (1883–1902), England's Ideal (1885), and Civilisation, its Cause and Cure (1889). From 1893, he lived openly with his working class lover, George Merrill, his rejection of conventional notions of social and sexual behaviour having a profound impact on such younger followers as E. M. Forster. In 1886, Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson and C. R. Ashbee invited Edward Carpenter, the sandal-wearing socialist, to lecture in Cambridge.

National Portrait Gallery, London



Edward Carpenter




oil on canvas


H 74.9 x W 43.8 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Given by Roger Fry, 1930

Work type



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