ENTRY: Chubb, Ralph
Ralph Nicholas Chubb (b. 8 February 1892 - d. 14 January 1960)
was an English poet, printer, and artist. Heavily influenced by Whitman, Edward Carpenter, Blake, and the
Romantics, his work was the creation of a highly intricate personal mythology, one that was
anti-materialist and sexually revolutionary.
Ralph Chubb was born in Harpenden, Hertfordshire. His family moved to the historic
town of St Albans before his first birthday. Chubb schooled at St Albans School and
went up to Selwyn College Cambridge.
He became an officer in the First World War, and served with distinction but developed neurasthenia.
He was invalided out in 1918.
From 1919 to 1922 Chubb studied at the Slade School of Art in London.
It was there that he met Leon Underwood and other influential artists. Although
his work was displayed at such venues as the Goupil Gallery and the Royal Academy of Art,
Romanticism was going out of fashion and his paintings did not sell.
He moved with his family to the village of Curridge, near Newbury in Berkshire.
He began to devote his artistic talents to the printed works which would remain his chief labor in life.
His books were created in several chief phases. His typeset books of the twenties were a
humble offering, exhibiting Chubb's talent for woodcutting and his quaint, visually
inspired poetry. Even at this early stage, Chubb's lifelong obsession with young males
was beginning to become apparent.
The first of his opulent lithographic books was The Sun Spirit. Throughout the nineteen-thirties,
Chubb's books became more elaborate and appealing. Water Cherubs crystallizes Chubb's
romantic aesthetic of the youthful male form, and The Secret Country unfolds like an illuminated
manuscript, recounting stories of Chubb's family and his journeys among the
Romani of the New Forest in Hampshire.
Chubb's printing press was interrupted by the war, but in 1948 he entered into the third
period of career with two massive volumes: The Child Of Dawn and Flames of Sunrise.
Each page of these two volumes is crowded with obscure digressions on Chubb's visionary mythology
and drawings of symbolic significance. Briefly summarized, Chubb's vision was a prophecy of
the redemption of 'Albion', or England, by the boy-god Ra-el-phaos, of whom Ralph
claimed himself to be the prophet and herald.
Chubb's later work becomes increasingly involved and obscure, but is of fascinating psychological
significance; each of the various angels, knights, seers, and gods in his dream
world represents an aspect of his introspective and persecuted self.
Chubb, like many other artists of his generation, resented science for its
intrusion into his imagination. He disparaged the scientists, orthodox
theologians, and politicians of world, accusing them of repressing his personal thirst for liberty.
Failing in health and facing continuing financial difficulties, Ralph
Chubb abandoned his controversial works in the mid-1950s, and began to collect and
reprint his early poems and childhood memories. In the final years of his life
he donated his remaining volumes to the national libraries of Britain.
He died peacefully at Fair Oak Cottage in Hampshire, and was buried next
to his parents at the Kingsclere Woodland Church.
Chubb's own Whitmanesque assessment of his work conforms to the general critical reaction:
"I do not necessarily claim to be a great artist or writer; but I claim to be a true spirit -- this is a subtler test. Seek me out; but you may not find me."Further reading: Cave, Roderick. "In Blake's Tradition: the Press of Ralph Chubb". The American Book Collector" 11 (2) 1960, p8-17
Cave, Roderick. "'Blake's Mantle', a Memoir of Ralph Chubb". Book Design and Production. 3 (2) 1960, p24-8
D'Arch Smith, Timothy. Love in Earnest (1970)
Rahman, Tariq. "Ephebophilia and the Creation of a Spiritual Myth in the Works of Ralph Nicholas Chubb". Journal of Homosexuality. 20 (1-2), p103-127.
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