Maurice Magnus (7 November 1876 – 4 November 1920) was an American traveller and author of Memoirs of the Foreign Legion, which exposed the cruelty and depravity of life in that French army unit in 1916-17.
The memoirs, published after his death, were notable for igniting a long-running feud between two of the most distinguished expatriate English authors, D.H. Lawrence and Norman Douglas, who had been close friends of his. Both the book and the feud surrounding it touched on homosexuality and bisexuality in a way that could not legally be referenced at the time. More recent revelations have added new insights into Lawrence as the prophet of love.
Just before his suicide (to avoid arrest for debt), Magnus had made Douglas his literary executor, but the memoirs in their original form were unpublishable. They duly appeared, in edited form, with a long introduction by Lawrence, whose name helped to sell the work. Douglas protested that Lawrence had maligned Magnus as an unprincipled spendthrift, and had exaggerated Lawrence’s own generosity towards him. As Lawrence seldom ventured into biography, Douglas said he detected the fiction-writer’s touch in this introduction. An early draft of the introduction in manuscript, now in the possession of the University of Nottingham, shows that Lawrence had intended an even more savage denunciation of Magnus.
- Maurice Magnus Memoirs of the Foreign Legion (1924), introduction by D.H. Lawrence.
- Brenda Maddox: The Married Man. A Life of D.H. Lawrence. Pub. Sinclair Stevenson, 1994.
- Norman Douglas. Essay ‘A Plea for Better Manners’ from Experiments.
- D.H. Lawrence. The late Mr. Maurice Magnus - a letter. New Statesman 20 February 1926. Reprinted in Selected Essays, Penguin Books, 1950. Endpiece, no page number.
- "Friend and critic - The University of Nottingham".
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