Roger Casement

by Jeffrey Dudgeon


Born 1 September 1864, executed 3 August 1916 aged 51; buried Pentonville Prison, reburied Glasnevin cemetery 1 March 1965. Significant companions: Millar Gordon born Larne 1890, from 1907 to 1914; and Adler Christensen born Norway 1890, from 1909 to 1915, died Fresnes Prison, Paris December 1935.


"Casement’s private diaries were handed in to Scotland Yard after his arrest in April 1916. They cover only the years of his Congo and Peruvian Amazon investigations in 1903, 1910 and in 1911 a diary and a cash ledger. That Casement wrote so ceaselessly suggests there must have been  many other diaries which were destroyed.
They are the most concentrated and frank, if terse, exposition of a gay male lifestyle put on paper before the 1920s. As such, they are social documents of great interest particularly to other gay men who come into the world without a history. The only record of gay lives before then was the criminal record. The ledger reveals an interest in male bodies from his early teenage years in Ballymena.
Their authenticity remains contested. The definitive evidence of Casement being a homosexual comes mostly from the diaries. London had only become aware of Casement’s sexual orientation in 1914 when his companion Adler Christensen betrayed him in Norway (and again in 1916 in the US). They had first met in South America and by chance later in New York. 

There is no suggestion Casement was heterosexual nor any documentary evidence of the diaries being manufactured, a task that would have required much time and research into Africa, South America and illegal gay life, given the thousands of events and people they cover and describe." 

This account is based on Roger Casement: The Black Diaries – with a Study of his Background, Sexuality, and Irish Political Life by Jeffrey Dudgeon, 802pp. (3rd edition 2019).

The films in this collection are news rushes (raw footage) filmed by Ulster Television in the 1960s. Thanks to Jeffrey Dudgeon, Fionntan McCarry and Grace Gordon (PRONI) for their help with cataloguing. Click on the Notes section of any of these films if you would like to read the longer biography written by Jeffrey Dudgeon.

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