Desire - A Memoir by Jonathan Dollimore

Desire - A Memoir by Jonathan Dollimore


'Jonathan Dollimore, a working class man who became one of our most thoughtful intellectuals, has written a memoir that meditates on sex, identity, boredom and ecstasy. It is a rich, sad, wise book.'

— Edmund White, author of "Our Young Man"


In this meditative and haunting memoir, renowned cultural critic Jonathan Dollimore recounts a life spent dedicated to understanding the delight and disorder of human desire. Through recollections of his struggles with depression, his discovery of love and literature and his adventures cruising in the gay subcultures of late twentieth-century New York, Brighton and Sydney, Dollimore weaves a candid, nuanced narrative of life in a newly liberated and hedonistic world, soon to be devastated by AIDS. 

Effortless blending the tragic and comic, Dollimore’s unique voice relates a life haunted and torn by loss, and the at once intensely personal yet universal experience of suffering and longing.


'A delightfully cheeky yet earnest reflection on the utopian and pedestrian possibilities of sexual life … There is much to admire here: the dewy beauty of Dollimore's limpid prose, the way his punctuation marks, like so many finely gloved fingers, point out the words and phrases to savor. There's the self-aware humor of a rebel-cum-scholar with a working-class background who clearly revels in a love of language that is never too far from the love of men … [In] Dollimore's memoir ... desire retains its glimmer of utopian potential to bring us to a place not yet known save in our dreams.'

— Los Angeles Review of Books

'At last it is here. We have waited too long for Jonathan Dollimore's sparkling, tender, deliciously funny and astute tales of the life of desire – in his own extraordinary journeys through time. All the mystery, miseries, and delights of lust and longing are exquisitely laid bare, in a memoir so riveting you will return to it again and again.'

— Lynne Segal, author of "Radical Happiness: Moments of Collective Joy"


Jonathan Dollimore has lectured and taught throughout the world.  He has been a trailblazer in the study of gender and queer theory and at the University of Sussex he cofounded the Centre for the Study of Sexual Dissidence.