100 Heroes: Ralph Chubb

The gay man who created a personal mythology as a sexual revolutionary.

100 Heroes: Ralph Chubb

Ralph Chubb was an English poet, printer and artist.

His work was the creation of a highly intricate personal mythology, one that was anti-materialist and sexually revolutionary.

Life and work

Chubb was born in Hertfordshire and grew up in St Albans.

After studying at Cambridge, he became an officer in the First World War in which he served until 1918 when he was invalided out.

After the war, Chubb studied art - working as a painter and then a writer and publisher.

His major painting The Well (1920) has bathers with boys wrestling, and a number of his works featured male nudes - reflecting a lifelong obsession with boys.

He expands upon this theme more explicitly in An Appendix, a pederastic and spiritualist manifesto.

Following the second world war, Chubb ramped up his writing, increasingly focused on his mythology.

Other themes run through all of Chubb's work. He was forever haunted by the memory of a young chorister at St Albans who disappeared from Chubb's life just as he had summoned up the courage to speak to him. Similarly, a brief sexual relationship with another boy when Ralph was 19 seemed to serve as a template for future visions of paradise.

Chubb's books become progressively more self-involved and paranoid. Seeking to articulate his pederastic desires, he created a personal mythology which explained everything in terms only he could understand. Nonetheless, Chubb's work is of fascinating psychological significance; each of the various angels, knights, seers, and boy-gods in his dream world represents an aspect of his introspective and persecuted self.

"The green green hills, the blue blue sky, blue sea, great golden SUN, yellow dandelions, the pink naked beauty of ripe boyhood, deathless free and happy, brimming with health. This I must have. Nothing less than this can ever satisfy me! GIVE ME MY HEAVEN! GIVE ME MY HEAVEN!" (Water-Cherubs)

Failing in health and facing continuing legal and financial difficulties, Chubb abandoned his controversial works in the mid-fifties, and began to collect and reprint his early poems and childhood memories.

In the final years of his life he donated his remaining volumes to the national libraries of Britain. He died peacefully at Fair Oak Cottage in Hampshire and was buried next to his parents at the Kingsclere Woodland Cemetery in Hampshire.