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T(erence) C(uthbert) Worsley
(1907 - February 23, 1977) U.K.

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Teacher, writer, and theatre and television critic


Born in Durham, Britain, his father, F. W. Worsley, was a minor county cricketer and a keen athlete. He became a vicar in a Lincolnshire village until he got the nursery maid pregnant and was forced out of his post. F. W. Worsley then went with his family to Durham and T. C Worsley was born at this time. The family moved on to Cambridge. T. C. Worsley had two older brothers John and James, an older sister Mary, and a younger brother Benjamin (apart from any other children sired outside the marriage).

T. C. Worsley went to the Llandaff Cathedral school and then on to Marlborough. Following this he went to St John's College, Cambridge University where he read classics, but he also continued to do well in sports. He was very backward in his understanding of sexuality. He shared a room with a student who had also come up from Marlborough and had been given the nickname Bacchus because of his handsome Greek profile. T. C. Worsley was very devoted to him and clung to him even when Bacchus was going out with a girl.

When T. C. Worsley later reflected on these times he realised that he was in love with Bacchus but did not think that it involved sexual feelings. Bacchus helped T. C. Worsley to find a girlfriend, Fiona, and for a month or so they went out together but even the kissing did not interest him. Some time after he left Cambridge he visited her and they went to see Mordaunt Shairp's play The Green Bay Tree, (1933), which dealt with a girl's attempt to get a young man away from his elderly male lover. After the performance Fiona told T. C. Worsley that he was also homosexual, but he did not know what to make of it.

In 1929 he became an assistant master at Wellington College where he stayed for five years. He then did some private tutoring and was also briefly at Gordonstoun School until arguments with the head, Kurt Hahn, led to them throwing books at each other. He then worked mostly as a freelance writer and wrote theatrical reviews.

In 1937, his friend Stephen Spender was commissioned by the communist newspaper the Daily Worker to investigate the rumour that the Russian ship the Komsomol had been sunk by the Italians. He took T. C. Worsley with him and they flew to Spain and travelled on the fringes of the Spanish civil war to Barcelona, Alicante, and Catalonia. Their investigations also took them to Gibraltar, Tangier, and Oran. They also visited Marrakesh. When back in Barcelona they soon realised that they wanted to help the war effort as soon as they could. Within a few weeks T. C. Worsley had joined a blood-transfusion unit in which he later looked after the sick and wounded in the retreat from Malaga.

In the Autumn of 1938 the left-wing monthly Fact commissioned an article on education, and T. C. Worsley collaborated with W. H. Auden on it. However, Fact rejected the resulting article, but it was accepted by John Lehmann who had it published by the Hogarth Press in March 1939 as a pamphlet entitled Education Today and Tomorrow. In 1939 he joined the staff of the New Statesman.

In 1940 he responded to the call for men to join the RAF as an intelligence officer but he found that he was rejected because he worked on the New Statesman and had been to Spain. However Harold Nicolson who was an Under-Secretary at the Ministry of War sorted the matter out, although T. C. Worsley was given an unsatisfying job as a education officer with the Initial Training Wing, starting at Torquay Training Command. He was later discharged after suffering psychological stress. He underwent psychiatric analysis and had an unsuccessful attempt at a heterosexual marriage.

In 1946 Worsley rejoined the New Statesman as literary editor and drama critic. He became a close friend of Terence Rattigan and defended his work, at a time when it was unpopular, in a long article in the London Magazine. T. C. Worsley spent winter breaks in Terence Rattigan's house in Bermuda and summer holidays in Ischia.

In June 1948 Christopher Isherwood and his boyfriend Don Bachardy stayed with T. C. Worsley after they had been to the Aldeburgh Festival. In 1956 T. C. Worsley introduced Christopher Isherwood to Terence Rattigan After a breakdown in health T. C. Worsley moved to the Financial Times in 1958, first as a drama critic, but in 1964 emphysema forced him to give up the theatre and from then on he wrote a weekly article on television for the newspaper. He also took part in the BBC radio programme series The Critics.

With the publication of his memoir, Flannelled Fool in 1967 he was the first in his class and generation to go into print with a detailed description of his homosexuality.

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.

John aged 18He 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 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, across the green lived Somerset Maugham and family, and Cuthy and John were frequent visitors to Sir Laurence Olivier in Brighton."


Source: excerpts from: The Knitting Circle, U.K. - http://www.sbu.ac.uk/stafflag/people.html

His work include:

  • Behind the Battle (1939)
  • Education Today & Tomorrow (1939)
  • Barbarians and Philistines: Democracy and the Public Schools (1940(
  • The Fugitive Art: Dramatic Commentaries 1947-1951 (1952)
  • Shakespeare's Histories at Stratford 1951 (1952)
  • Flannelled Fool: A Slice of Life in The Thirties (1967)
  • Five Minutes, Sir Matthew (1969)
  • Television: The Ephemeral Art (1970)
  • Fellow Travellers: A Memoir (1971)
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