Socialism and the first nudist colony – the queer tale of naturism, a Fabian fairy and a kinky judge

Should you wonder what’s queer about Socialism, take a gander at a report that caught Alf’s eye during his morning web wanderings.

It’s about the world’s first nudist colony being established in Thane, located on Salsette Island to the Northeast of Mumbai in India.

The reporter, one Vishwas Kulkarni, writes:

The satellite city of Thane may have been the unlikeliest of places for such a recreation, but the world’s first-ever nudist colony, The Fellowship of the Naked Trust (FNT), was set up there in 1891 by Charles Edward Gordon Crawford, a District and Sessions Judge in British India.

This was proved by four letters – copies of which are with Mumbai Mirror – written by the founder to Edward Carpenter, English socialist, philosopher and gay activist, between August 19, 1891 and June 5, 1892.


Carpenter was a founding member of the Fabian Society, a Socialist think tank of its time.

The mumbair Mirror bases its story on the correspondence between Carpenter and Crawford.

These letters prove that the commune functioned out of Matheran, the neighbourhood hill station, and Tulsi Lake, which supplies parched Mumbai with water even today.

The club boasted of only three members: C.E.G. Crawford, an English widower, and Andrew and Kellogg Calderwood, the sons of a missionary. While one woman did express a desire to belong, she never gathered the gumption to engage with it.

Mind you, maybe she did have the gumption to engage with it, but was blackballed by the all-male threesome.

There is a strong hint in all this – after all – that women would not have been welcome.

But let’s read on –

It is the club’s philosophical connect to the sepia-tinted beginnings of the queer movement in Victorian England that makes it even more exotic.

The report offers samples of the correspondence between Crawford and Carpenter.

It also mentions the Dress Code (a non sequitur, surely, for a nudist club).

The club required members to go stark naked, but accessories such as rings, eyeglasses and false teeth were permitted.

Carpenter suggested to Crawford that FNT develop women’s branches.

Crawford welcomed the idea, but

…one of the Calderwood brothers had issues with this since “he did not want to encourage timidity too much.”

Women would have to wear their hair loose without ribbons, combs or hairpins. The use of rouge or powder was prohibited.

More fascinating tidbits –

* The FNT required members to be plainspoken when discussing sexual taboos. Anyone could be admitted if nominated by two members.

* Despite the radical nature of the club, sectarian and political discussion was forbidden.

Carpenter (1844 -1929), the bloke described in the report as an English socialist, philosopher and gay activist, lived with fellow fairies in a community near Sheffield and apparently had a profound influence on both DH Lawrence and EM Forster.

After visiting Carpenter and his partner in Millthorpe in 1912, Forster was inspired to write his gay-themed novel, Maurice.

Carpenter regarded marriage in England as enforced celibacy and a form of prostitution. He did not believe women would truly be emancipated until a Socialist society was properly established. He considered civilization a disease that human societies pass through.

Alf reckons his constituents should be fully apprised of this stuff. It takes the wraps off the warped mind-set underpinning Fabianism and Socialism and should help to ensure Labour gets no votes in Eketahuna North at the next election.

2 Responses to Socialism and the first nudist colony – the queer tale of naturism, a Fabian fairy and a kinky judge

  1. […] in the immediate aftermath of Alf’s posting yesterday about nudists, Fabians and fairies, there’s a more bothersome aspect to the Goff […]

  2. Mike says:

    The first nudist colonies were long before this. The Adamites existed as Christian communities where they lived naked. These existed in the first four centuries of Christianity. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adamites

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