Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Gay activist Edward Carpenter to be honoured with Sheffield sculpture

Edward Carpenter Image copyright Sheffield Archives
Image caption Edward Carpenter was "a significant cultural and political activist" who campaigned on a number of issues including equality and sexual freedom

Plans for a sculpture in Sheffield to honour a socialist poet and gay activist have been announced.

Edward Carpenter, who died in 1929, campaigned on issues of equality and sexual freedom.

Organisers said artist Maggi Hambling had agreed to create a permanent memorial to recognise "his historical and social importance" and association with the city.

Friends of Edward Carpenter said it was raising £175,000 for the project.

Carpenter was born in Brighton in 1844 and was well-known for his writings on sexuality. He lived most of his life in Sheffield, setting up the now defunct Commonwealth Cafe on Scotland Street with his partner George Merrill.

He travelled to India and Sri Lanka in 1890 and is credited with introducing Indian sandals to England.

The writer also campaigned on issues including women's suffrage, environmental protection and the formation of trade unions.

Image copyright Sheffield Archives
Image caption Edward Carpenter opened the Commonwealth Café in Sheffield with his lover George Merrill

Making the announcement at an event celebrating the 175th anniversary of his birth, Kate Flannery, from Friends of Edward Carpenter, said he was "a significant cultural and political activist" who needed to be honoured.

"Edward Carpenter saw a future full of hope and a simpler way of life, a world free of sexism, class divisions, war, homophobia, a world where we live in a sustainable way. Not only that but he fought for them and campaigned for change.

"We feel his values resonate with many people today. That makes it extremely important that we honour his influence with a public memorial."

Steve Slack, also from Friends of Edward Carpenter, said the group was in talks with the city council to find a prominent site for the memorial.

A planning application is expected to be submitted before the end of the year, he added.

Details and plans of the sculpture have not been disclosed.

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