by Denton Welch
Foreword by Edith Sitwell
288 pages, paperback,
Maiden Voyage is an account of author Denton Welch’s sixteenth year, when he ran away from his English public school and was then sent to Shanghai to live with his father. The book was Welch’s first and created a sensation on publication in 1943; its frank description of public schoolboy life forced publisher Herbert Read to initially seek advice from libel lawyers. Even Winston Churchill’s private secretary gossiped in a letter that, “the book was reeking with homosexuality? I think I must get it.” Today, Welch’s expressions of sexuality may seem more demure than outrageous, but his portrayal of the passions and humiliations of adolescence is graphic. As in all of Welch’s novels, it is the precisely realized details of the author’s physical and social surroundings that make the book such a remarkable journey.
“Pursued fiercely enough, every literary vice becomes admirable… Denton Welch is the champion of preciousness. [His] childlike honesty about his desires has made him something of a gay writer’s gay writer, praised by W. H. Auden, William S. Burroughs and Edmund White.” — New York Times Book Review
“Are we not all, emotionally, what Mr. Welch is in fact — orphans, each traveling alone on a journey which, if it is headed in the direction of unknown dangers, at least is leading one away from the fears one knows?” — W. H. Auden