Left to Themselves – Edward Prime-Stevenson

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Edward Prime-Stevenson (1858-1942) has been described by one critic as “the first modern gay American author,” and his novel Imre: A Memorandum (1906) has been cited as the first openly gay American novel. But fifteen years earlier, Stevenson published another milestone work, Left to Themselves (1891), a young adult novel described by its author as “homosexual in essence,” the first such book ever published.

A thrilling, fast-paced boys’ adventure tale in the tradition of R. M. Ballantyne and Horatio Alger, Left to Themselves follows young Gerald Saxton, en route from New York to meet his father in Nova Scotia, chaperoned by the older youth Philip Touchtone. Along the way, Gerald and Philip’s romantic friendship will blossom as they contend with a number of extraordinary events and obstacles, including a shipwreck that leaves them island castaways, and a mysterious, predatory figure who dogs their steps and will stop at nothing to get his hands on Gerald.

Out of print for over 120 years and long unobtainable, Stevenson’s book returns to print at last in this highly anticipated new edition, which is introduced and annotated by Prof. Eric L. Tribunella. This edition also features an appendix of supplementary materials, including contemporary reviews of the novel and selections of other writings by Stevenson.