Queer Saint: The Cultured Life of Peter Watson
Adrian Clark, Jeremy Dronfield

Queer Saint: The Cultured Life of Peter Watson

Peter Watson (1908-1956)  supported a whole range of British artists financially and in other ways.  He also funded the creation of the cultural journal, Horizon, installing his friend Cyril Connolly as its editor.  He himself found the art contributions which ranged far and wide across the European and American cultural worlds.  

Then, in early 1946, he worked with Roland Penrose and Herbert Read to create the Institute of Contemporary Arts, thereafter curating exhibitions for his favoured artists.  He also built up an extremely wide ranging collection of art, by many of the great 20th century masters, such as Picasso, Soutine, Renoir, Gris, Klee and Leger, and also the leading British artists of the time including Bacon, Freud, Sutherland, Piper, Craxton and Henry Moore.  

A life long homosexual, he was probably murdered by his last boyfriend and heir Norman Fowler in 1956.  Having been the object of Cecil Beaton's affections, he has tended to be seen either through the prism of Beaton's Diaries and also through those focussing on Cyril Connolly and Horizon.   Adrian has written a full biography of Peter Watson so that his varied life and achievements can be put into their proper context.  

Book Details:

  • Author: Adrian Clark, , Jeremy Dronfield
  • Published Year: 2015
  • Rights Sold
    • UK: John Blake

Adrian Clark,

Adrian Clark attended King Edward VI Grammar School Retford, Nottinghamshire and then read History at Peterhouse, Cambridge, going up in 1976.  At the time, Peterhouse was full of historians and the influential Maurice Cowling was a senior fellow.  After a career in the City as a corporate lawyer, Adrian returned to History, with his first book published in June 2010 called British and Irish Art 1945-1951. From War to Festival.  This was a mildly controversial attempt to analyse the British and Irish art worlds during those years in great detail to seek an understanding of ho...
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Jeremy Dronfield

Jeremy Dronfield is a versatile, multi-faceted writer with four novels to his name. He came to writing via a circuitous route. His first serious stopover in life was as an archaeologist. After a few years in rescue excavation, he did his doctoral research at Cambridge University, on the subject of art and religion in prehistoric Ireland. His thesis was published as a series of papers in international journals including Antiquity and Current Anthropology. While trying to get an academic career in archaeology off the ground, he began dabbling in writing fiction – a pursuit he’d ...
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Book Reviews

  • "Adrian Clark’s compelling rediscovery of the life and death of Peter Watson casts new light on the intellectual and artistic world of mid twentieth century Britain: the world of Bacon and Freud, Cyril Connolly and Stephen Spender."
    Lloyd Grosssman
  • "The curious life of this curious man is the subject of a new book, Queer Saint by Adrian Clark and Jeremy Dronfield. Watson was queer in both senses and the authors trace his wanderings through both the beau monde and the dingy one and lay out the friendships and loves he found in each. The figure that emerges is at once a gay playboy with a taste for rough trade and an aesthete in the purest sense of the word who left an indelible if largely unacknowledged mark on British art."
    The Independent
  • "For anyone interested in high culture during the Second World War, this book will make an entertaining and informative read."
    Spiked
  • "Peter Watson, the 1930s playboy who wafts in and out of other biographies, at last takes centre stage."
    The Spectator
  • "For anyone interested in high culture during the Second World War, this book will make an entertaining and informative read."
    http://www.spiked-online.com
  • "Painstakingly researched, with telling quotations from obscure sources, and draws on resourceful interviews and correspondence."
    Times Literary Supplement
  • "This most enjoyable and revealing book ."
    British Art Journal