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Nothing Ever Just Disappears

Allen Lane, August 2023

A New History

Nothing Ever Just Disappears retraces the footsteps of some of the twentieth century's most remarkable queer writers and artists. Moving through their homes and haunts, it explores the deep connections between where they lived, who they loved, and the iconoclastic artworks they created.

Featuring Derek Jarman, E. M. Forster, London's queer suffragettes, Josephine Baker, Claude Cahun, James Baldwin, Jack Smith, and Kevin Killian.

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A Queer Sense of Place

At a time when queer spaces are increasingly under threat, Nothing Ever Just Disappears argues for their centrality to literature and art, then and now. It powerfully evokes how much is lost when they are forgotten, and shows that a queer sense of place is central to any history of the twentieth century. 

Image: Derek Jarman in Dungeness, 1991 by Howard Sooley

Diarmuid Hester has written a book I have always wanted to read. An exploration, celebration and reclamation of queer lives within their spaces and landscapes, it roams from the cloisters and locked gates of Cambridge to the hilly streets of San Francisco, the apartments of New York City and the nuclear desert of Dungeness's shingle-shore, where Derek Jarman created a world on the margins and of the margins. Hester is a fizzingly brilliant writer, and with its fusion of personal testimony, reportage, cultural history and literary criticism, this book will surely find a wide readership. 

Robert Macfarlane, author of Underland 

A charming, playfully challenging companion on a dreamy quest through lost landscapes of defiance, imagination and desire.

Jeremy Atherton Lin, author of Gay Bar

Insightful, delightful, and enlightening: an essential entrant into the queer canon.

Isabel Waidner, author of Sterling Karat Gold

Diarmuid Hester’s beautifully written psycho-biography explores obscure corners of places as sites of hidden queer histories. His portraits of writers and activists from E.M. Forster to Josephine Baker, London’s queer suffragettes and Kevin Killian are haunted and haunting - totally riveting.

Chris Kraus, author of I Love Dick

A moving, erudite book. Writing against the tide of erasure, Hester takes us on a journey through time, over land and sea, and casts an empathetic and sharply humorous eye on this pantheon of queer figures. A hymn to the importance of community and place, this is a vital public history of queer life that is both intimate and wondrously radical.

Seán Hewitt, author of All Down Darkness Wide

A Celebration

From the cloisters of Cambridge to the rainbow-coloured crosswalks of San Francisco, from the smoky clubs of Jazz Age Paris to the bunkers of Nazi-occupied Jersey, Nothing Ever Just Disappears is a celebration of freedom, survival, and the hidden places of the imagination.

Image: Self-portrait, ca. 1928 by Claude Cahun

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Advance Praise

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