March 28, 2018

Richard Colley: Life Story of a British Gay From the 1920s and 1930s Through Amazing Pics

These photos from The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography that belonged to an Englishman by the name of Richard Colley, known as 'Dick' or 'Dickie' to his many friends. Most of photos are dated from 1922 to 1925, some others are dated 1932 and 1933.

Richard Colley enjoyed a privileged lifestyle of holidays, afternoon parties, receptions and costumed balls, interspersed with trips to the races and to the theatre. Many of his friends in the album are unidentified, but it is clear that he knew Dorothy Gish, Gaby Deslys, Harry Pilcer, Beatrice de Bourbon, and the former Queen of Italy.

Richard Colley in strange costumes, circa 1920s

It is possible that he himself enjoyed a brief career as a dancer or in silent films. It is also possible that Colley was not his original surname. Preliminary research suggests that he was born Douglas Colley Best.

A number of different homes appear in the albums, including Richard's childhood home, The Grange at Canon Pyon in Herefordshire, where his parents still lived. He himself had a flat in London at 107, Queen's Gate, Kensington. He spent time in the early 1930s at Warren Cottage in Kingston, and he also had a house at Palm Beach in Florida. Many photographs show the exterior and interior of all these homes.

Holidays featured with a man identified only as Russell, clearly his boyfriend. The first trip together was a motor tour of England and Wales. Shortly afterwards they set off together around Europe, visiting the South of France, Monte Carlo and many locations in Italy, travelling as far south as Naples and Capri. The two men also crossed the Atlantic and spent time together in Miami Beach and Hollywood.

Richard and Beatrice de Bourbon

Richard and boyfriend

Richard and boyfriend

Richard and boyfriend

Richard and boyfriend

Richard and friends in Cannes

Richard and friends

Richard and friends

Richard and friends

Richard and his monkey

Richard and two friends, possibly heading off to the races, or perhaps a garden party

Richard and unidentified friend

Richard and unidentified friend

Richard and unidentified friend

Portrait of Richard Colley

Portrait of Richard Colley

Richard in strange costume

Richard Colley

Richard Colley

Richard Colley

Richard Colley

Richard Colley

Richard Colley

Richard Colley

Richard Colley

Richard Colley

Richard in Hollywood

Richard in Menton (taken on a motor tour Richard and Russell made through the South of France and Italy in 1932 or 1933)

Richard in Monte Carlo (presumably taken by his boyfriend Russell)

Richard in Palm Beach

Richard is seated at the centre of the group, looking straight into the camera

Richard is the one wearing a beret, seated on the camel second from the right

Richard photographed at The Lodge, Canon Pyon, Herefordshire

Richard with four Borzois

Richard with two unidentified friends at the Great Pyramid outside Cairo (The Sphinx in the background)

Richard's boyfriend Russell

Richard's car and chauffeur

Richard's family

Richard's mother Louisa Mary Colley

Richard's parents, Gerald Douglas Best and his wife Louisa Mary Best née Colley

Richard's unidentified friend

Richard's unidentified friend

Richard's unidentified friend

Richard's unidentified friend

Richard's unidentified friend

Russell at Mount Vesuvius (presumably taken by Richard Colley)

Russell at the Hotel Elysée, Rome (presumably taken by Richard Colley)

Russell in Miami Beach (presumably taken by Richard Colley)

Russell in Monte Carlo (presumably taken by Richard Colley)

Russell in Venice (presumably taken by Richard Colley)

Russell in Wales

This is possibly Richard's mother, dressed for a masquerade ball

Two women with Richard as Mrs Dorothy Cavis-Brown and Mrs Hugh Williams

107, Queen's Gate, London SW7

Richard's bedroom in London

Richard's bedroom in London

The interior of Richard Colley's house in Palm Beach, Florida

View of one of the rooms in Richard's London flat at 107, Queen's Gate, Kensington

View of the drawing room in Richard's London flat at 107, Queen's Gate, Kensington

View of the drawing room in Richard's London flat at 107, Queen's Gate, Kensington







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