On November 10th, Peter Burton, writer, editor and trailblazer in the field of gay journalism, died after he was believed to have suffered a heart attack.  He was 66.

Born in 1945 in London, England, Burton wrote, edited, or contributed to over twenty books, including six anthologies, three of which were nominated for Lambda Literary awards. His books include: A Casualty of War (2009), What Love Is, published earlier this year, two volumes of memoirs, Parallel Lives (Gay Men’s Press, 1985) and Amongst the Aliens: Some Aspects of a Gay Life (Millivres, 1995), and A Life On the Town, an authorized biography of Rod Stewart.

While a prolific writer and editor of books, Burton was principally noted for being at the forefront of the gay journalism movement in England.

Speaking to FrontiersLa.com, in January, Burton stated, “…I had been there from the very beginning—the moment when the gay press burst out of its shell to publish openly and legally.”

Starting in the 1960s, Burton wrote for Spartacus and Jeremy, two of the UK’s first gay magazines.

In the 1970s, Burton began working at the Gay News, eventually becoming the broadsheet’s literary editor. It was during Burton’s tenure that Gay News published James Kirkup’s notorious poem “The Love That Dares to Speak its Name,” a poem about a Roman centurion who sodomizes the body of Christ after its removal from the cross. When Gay News closed in the early 1980s, Burton was hired as the literary and features editor at Gay Times. Burton remained at the Gay Times until 2003.

His partner Ian predeceased him. Burton is survived by his sister Pamela.

Gary Pulsifer, the founder of Arcadia Books,  provided this lovely piece about Burton in The Guardian.

[via The Guardian]


Photo by Mark Vessey

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  • Growing Old With Grace

4 Responses to “In Remembrance: Peter Burton”

  1. Perry Brass 18 November 2011 at 10:36 AM #

    How terribly sad to read about Peter Burton’s death. I was very fortunate to be included in 3 of Peter’s wonderful anthologies for Millivres Prowler, back when that imprint was publishing some excellent stuff: “Death Comes Easy,” “Bend Sinister,” and “Serendipity.” The last anthology published “A Small Triumph,” a longer short story of mine that was extremely controversial: as in, I can’t imagine any other editor touching it because it dealt with a love relationship between an older gay writer and a boy with Down’s Syndrome. I had written it about twenty years earlier, and no would even look at it. Just the idea was too inflammatory. But Peter took it on instantly—and I was thrilled. Also, all of these collections had Francis King in them! Francis who died not too long ago, was one of the last of the great English classic gay writers—he knew everyone, from Somerset Maugham to R. J. Ackerley to Isherwood to . . . well, I’m very humbled to say me. The span of these anthologies was beautiful; I hope someone else does books like these, but I doubt if anyone will do them with the style and beauty of Peter Burton.

  2. Jeffrey Round 18 November 2011 at 2:50 PM #

    Peter, dear Peter, who did so much, and did it so quietly, but always had time to hand-write a letter to struggling authors like me (possibly because you never got around to mastering the art of email!) I was blessed with your insight and your kindness, as were many others. Thank you.

  3. Randall Ivey 18 November 2011 at 3:55 PM #

    A real gentleman. It was a pleasure working with him. First Ms. Grier, now Peter Burton. A soberting week indeed. RIP.

  4. Jody Grant 26 February 2016 at 1:11 PM #

    I am late to posting this as I came across Peter’s death on another blog I was reading. I had not heard of him so I did a little reading up on him. What a great influence he seemed to be. It is tragic that he passed so young.

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