Ardent socialist (author of the anthem England Arise, founding member of the Independent Labour Party), feminist (saying, “there is no solution except the freedom of woman,” he considered traditional marriage to be a form of prostitution), gay activist (his ground-breaking books like My Days and Dreams and The Intermediate Sex go far beyond earlier essays by his friend John Addington Symonds), pacifist, nudist, mystic, poet, and the first person to introduce sandals to modern Britain, Edward Carpenter’s greatest legacy may be how he lived his life. Utterly changed after reading Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass in 1863, he began to dream of a brotherhood of manly love that would erase class lines and give rise to a true democracy. After graduating from Cambridge and leaving a position vacated by Leslie Stephen, Virginia Woolf’s father, Carpenter gave public lectures in Leeds intended for the working class (but attended only by the middle class, who didn’t warm to his ideas) and sought to befriend laborers, unsuccessfully. Finally in 1891, after meeting by chance on a train, he and uneducated George Merrill became lovers. In 1898, when Carpenter was fifty-four and Merrill was thirty-two, they established a house together, absolutely unheard of in an England still widely antigay in the aftermath of the Oscar Wilde trials. They lived together openly as a couple for thirty years until Merrill’s death, and their cross-class love was the direct inspiration for their friend E.M. Forster’s novel Maurice, as well as D.H. Lawrence’s heterosexualized version, Lady Chatterley's Lover. Not all authors were so enamored. In the decade after Carpenter’s death, George Orwell ridiculed “every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal wearer [and] sex maniac” among the Socialists. Yet an American Communist, Harry Hay, credited Carpenter’s writings for galvanizing him to start the first gay rights group, The Mattachine Society, in Los Angeles in 1950. Last year's Lammy winning biography of Carpenter by Sheila Rowbotham was Peter Tatchell's and Jeanette Winterson's favorite book of 2008.