Dancing Suite, part 2: The Consequences of Flight, 1/?
Welcome to the next installment of my Murdoch Mysteries m/m fic. Click through or read below.
Fandom: Murdoch Mysteries
Rating: Not Rated
Warnings: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Relationships: William Murdoch/James Pendrick
Characters: William Murdoch, James Pendrick, Julia Ogden, Inspector Brackenreid, Georges Crabtree, James Gillies
Additional Tags: A host of OCs - Freeform, A host of historical figures, Diary/Journal, Fake Academic Essay
Series: Part 2 of The Dancing Suite
The following is taken from a recently defended Master’s cognate in History entitled « The Consequences of Flight : The Rediscovered Diary of a Canadian Homosexual in the Late-Victorian Era. »
Description : The following is taken from a recently defended Master’s cognate in History entitled « The Consequences of Flight : The Rediscovered Diary of a Canadian Homosexual in the Late-Victorian Era. »
Excerpts from the Introduction
[…] The history of homosexuality at the waining years of the Victorian era, whether in North America or Europe, is limited by an extreme dearth of primary sources outside of judicial and police records. While we know quite well how homosexuality was policed and legislated, the lived experience of homosexuals remains obscured. There are a few notable exceptions, usually among artists and writers, but even in their cases, much is to be deduced and many historians will refuse to see anything other friendship in historical correspondence which would be considered proof of a gay relationship in the contemporary record. As such, the turn of the Twentieth century continues to be a history of silences and closeted individuals thrown forcibly into the light by judicial means.
In Canada, the new Criminal Code adopted in 1868 on the heels of Confederation made same sex relations into act of gross indecency which, if it do longer required the death penalty, continued to land homosexuals in prison and hard labour. As such, there are few “confirmed bachelors” in the non-judicial public record in this period, outside perhaps of Montréal. Indeed, in Toronto the Good around 1900, homosexuals of any gender only even appear when prosecution or public opprobrium is raised. This is why the discovery of a hitherto unknown diary or a hitherto unidentified Toronto homosexual, one well-known person at that, is so rare and exciting. [...]
[...] Internal references show that the diary’s author was most likely none other than William Murdoch (b. 1863, Shelbourne, NS), who served in the Toronto Constabulary, notably as a Detective of Station House no 4 from 1893 until is disappearance in October 1899. [...]
His disappearance, along with that of former millionaire and inventor James Pendrick (b. 1895, Toronto, ON) had led at the time to endless speculation as to their well-being. [...] Police archives reveal little more. They show it was well-known that the two men lived together in the Pendrick Mansion in Rosedale, but with no suspicion of impropriety.
What was well known at the time, however, was that in the few days before they disappeared, the men were kidnapped and tortured by James Gillies (b. 1878, London, UK; d. 1899, Toronto, ON), whom Murdoch had arrested for murder in 1897. Toronto newspapers, for the most part, believed them murdered. [...] Until the discovery of the diary presented here, popular culture had completely embraced the theory that serial murderer James Gillies had assassinated Murdoch and Pendrick, as the movies Jagged Edges (1996) and its remake The Murdoch Trap (2012) posited.
The Murdoch diary reveals a very different story. Murdoch and Pendrick survived Gillies, but they were found to have been much more than housemates. The two men were in fact a committed couple, but they had allies in the Toronto Constabulary who aided in their flight from the city.
That Murdoch and Pendrick were a homosexual couple, one that had completely escaped the historical record is astounding, especially considering how well-known both men were in Toronto at the time. Between 1893 and 1900, Toronto newspapers are replete with articles and reports about them. Murdoch is arguably Toronto’s most well-known police officer at the time, due to his arrest record and his many narrow escapes. Pendrick was perhaps more infamous than famous. He was an impressively successful industrialist, becoming one of Toronto’s first millionaires by 1894, but suffered a humiliating blow, when it was revealed that his wife (Sally Hubbard, 1866-1898) was in fact a criminal mastermind and multiple murderer herself! She swindled her husband out of most of his fortune. It was in fact during the investigations over the Hubbard thefts and murders that Murdoch and Pendrick met. It is not known when their intimate relationship began.
[...] The Murdoch diary is a unique window into the minds of the two men. Spanning about a year, it is dated from March 8th, 1899 to October 17th 1900, with two early entries dating to some time after they fled Toronto in October 1899. It recounts how they left Toronto, through Montréal and Cherbourg to finally Paris. Murdoch’s narrative is at times choppy, especially in the first half, which was written aboard the Hamburg-America line steamship SS Columbia while describing their winter sojourn outside Montréal. It speaks to the physical and emotional tole they suffered. The reader cannot help but feel for these two brave gay men, facing a world of prejudice preventing them from healing properly from the trauma inflicted upon them. It also shows how they overcame their travails. It is quite moving at times: the former policeman expresses great sorrow. It seems perhaps the men even suffer from clinical depression. “I find I need to speak of the last few month,” writes Murdoch at the beginning of the journal. One excuses the disorganization of the diary’s first section, as it was written in the span of a week, largely in flashback, during a singular period of transition: the crossing of the Atlantic before they would begin their new life in France: “There will not be a return trip for us.” [...]
The second section of the Murdoch diary, written in Paris proper, is just as moving, though it speaks more of adventure and discovery, as both men find a place for themselves and a new identity. Murdoch quotes Pendrick: “We might make ourselves useful afterall [sic.].” Contrary to the former section, the Paris narrative is written day to day, rendering it more legible and more coherent. [...] The diary itself is a single 100-page ledger manufactured by the Consolidated Stationary Company (Winnipeg, MB) and is written with at least three different nibs. Murdoch’s handwriting is crisp and legible, consistent throughout despite the different writing implements used, and compares perfectly with the police reports he penned before his disappearance. [...]
This cognate essay takes the form of an annotated transcription of the Murdoch diary. Individuals, places, events and inventions which have been identified with certainty are fully referenced. Where doubt remains, footnotes indicate this candidate’s best hypothesis.