Partner Tony Bower, John Anthony Luscombe
University of Cambridge, 4 Mill Ln, Cambridge CB2 1RZ, UK
Wellington College, Duke's Ride, Crowthorne, West Berkshire RG45 7PU, UK
North End House, The Green, Rottingdean, Brighton BN2 7HA, UK
Thomas Cuthbert Worsley (December 10, 1907 - February 23, 1977), who wrote as T. C. Worsley, was a British teacher, writer, editor, and theatre and television critic. He is best remembered for his autobiographical Flannelled Fool: A Slice of a Life in the Thirties. He was the first in his class and generation to go into print with a detailed description of his homosexuality. He was a longtime friend of Terence Rattigan.
Cuthbert Worsley was born on 10 December 1907 in Durham, the son of a rising Anglican clergyman. He was the third of four sons, with one sister. His father, F. W. Worsley—a Doctor of Divinity, a holder of the Military Cross, a former holder of the English long jump record and obsessive sportsman, and eventually Dean of Llandaff Cathedral—was a dominating but dysfunctional force in family life until his abrupt desertion, with two suitcases, of both family and deanery, when Worsley was a university student. Worsley was educated initially at the Llandaff Cathedral school, transferring later to nearby Brightlands preparatory school from which he won two scholarships to Marlborough College. While at home from Marlborough during a summer vacation Worsley's younger brother Benjamin drowned at the seaside, an event incalculably traumatic for Worsley. According to one account, this tragedy transformed Cuthbert into somewhat of a bore: when he was with a lover he would weep all the time, giving vent to his sense of guilt. At Marlborough, following a year of general education, his studies were exclusively Classical and led to a scholarship at St John's College, Cambridge from which, though he initially read Classics, he graduated in English with a third-class degree. Throughout his school and university careers he was a successful cricketer, and his academic studies at Cambridge were neglected; but his sporting prowess helped him, immediately on graduating in 1929, to a position as schoolmaster at Wellington College. The story of his challenges to the traditions of the school is told in Flannelled Fool.
Jean Connolly moved in an entourage of young male couples that included Dwight Ripley and Rupert Barneby, Tony Bower and Cuthbert Worsley, Peter Watson and Denham Fouts, Brian Howard and Toni Altmann. "Drink, night life, tarts and Tonys," complained Cyril Connolly, who referred to the whole entourage as "Pansyhalla." They liked Picasso, Marcel Proust, and Francis Poulenc, favored in architecture the Baroque, admired Josephine Baker and jazz. Someone took a copy of Dwight Ripley's Poems to Jean Cocteau, who responded "Quel néurophate!", a diagnosis that Rupert relayed with wicked relish. When Gerald Heard published two books in 1931 to propose that evolution demanded an evolved human consciousness, Brian Howard called them "the most important that have ever been written since the Ice Age." In Pansyhalla, a compelling example was set by Peter Watson, who joined with Cyril Connolly in 1939 to found Horizon and then financed that influential journal thoughout its career. Until the WWII, Watson lived mostly in Paris; a portrait of Jean Connolly, by Man Ray, was in his apartment. In 1938 he subsized the publication of a first book of poems by Charles Henri Ford, the young poet who was painter Pavel Tchelitchew's lover, and who, back in New York by 1940, would found a counterpart to Horizon, the trendier but likewise influential magazine View. It was View that brought John Bernard Myers from Buffalo to be its managing editor, and Myers who, as director of the Tibor de Nagy Gallery that Dwight himself sponsored, acted as impresario for a cast of painters and poets that seems now, to typify the postwar New York scene.
With Stephen Spender Worsley went to Spain during the Spanish Civil War, some of his experiences being recorded decades later in Fellow Travellers. His The End of the Old School Tie (1941) was published as part of the Searchlight Books series edited by Tosco Fyvel and George Orwell. He later worked for the left-wing magazine New Statesman as assistant to Raymond Mortimer, the literary editor and drama critic. In 1958 he moved to the Financial Times as theatre and television critic.
In 1972 he retired because of his ill health. In the same year he received the IPC award as Critic of the Year. He put most of his capital into a boat which he had visions of living in on the Mediterranean coast, but the boat developed a series of faults and had to be abandoned in Arles until it was sailed back and sold at a loss.
He spent his last years at various places around Sussex with his long-term friend John Anthony Luscombe until they moved into a flat overlooking the sea at Brighton, that had been paid for anonymously. He died in Kemp Town, Brighton, after taking an overdose when his emphysema meant that simply breathing became too much for him.
Kay Elizabeth Luscombe Harvey, the sister of John Luscombe, wrote: "Having known Cuthy from a very early age I can say with confidence that his relationship with my brother, John Anthony Luscombe, was both strong and lasting, them being together for over thirty years. He also formed close bonds with myself and other family members. Mr Leith is correct, however, when he comments on Cuthys' battle with those who were bullies or whose views he found repellant.
They shared a house in Rottingdean, rented from Enid Bagnold, who lived next door at North End House, across the green lived Somerset Maugham and family, and Cuthy and John were frequent visitors to Sir Laurence Olivier in Brighton."
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