John Horne Burns: The writer Hemingway and Vidal envied
In the fall of 1941, John Horne Burns, Andover ’33, Harvard summa cum laude ’37, was teaching English at the Loomis School in Windsor, Connecticut. Burns was an isolationist (“I am a pacifist. I don’t want to get shot,” he had said), a linguist (fluent in French, Italian, and German), and musician, an accomplished pianist and vocalist. He was also a dazzling intellect and a would-be novelist (he’d written many unpublished ones already). He was also a gay man, as closeted as the era required but nonetheless sufficiently out to inspire his gay students, both those who knew they were and those yet to learn. Shortly after Pearl Harbor, he was drafted. He was twenty-five years old.