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Release: May 17, 1999

New book says Bible commissioner King James was likely gay

IOWA CITY- Was King James, the commissioner of the Bible that bears his name, homoerotic? One scholarly researcher from Kansas thinks so and in writing "Homoerotic Desire-The King James Version," published by the University of Iowa Press, has used original Sixteenth Century letters to shed light on the much talked about question.

David Bergon, a University of Kansas English professor, craftily argues in "Homoerotic Desire," that James’ correspondence with certain men in his court is evidence of James’ homoerotic desire. Commentators have condemned these letters as indecent or repulsive but Bergon writes that the letters convey an inward desire of the king and subject in mutual exchange of love. The new book provides rare insights into the private life of one of England’s most important monarchs.

Bergon outlines that King James corresponded with three principal male favorites during his reign: Esmé Stuart of Lennox, Robert Carr of Somerset and George Villiers of Buckingham. Bergon writes that the large collection of letters exchanged between James and Buckingham in the 1620s provides the clearest evidence for James’ homoerotic desires. During a protracted separation in 1623, letters between the two raced back and forth. The letters explore themes of absence, the pleasure of writing and a preoccupation with the body.

Bergon, a University of Kansas English professor, has published numerous books and articles on Shakespeare, Renaissance drama, civic pageantry and the Stuart royal family, including "Royal Family, Royal Lovers: King James of England and Scotland."

"King James and Letters of Homoerotic Desire" (260 pages, $24.95 cloth) is available in bookstores or can be ordered from the UI Press by calling 1-800-621-2736.