Born in Massachusetts in 1916, John Horne Burns grew up steeped in the traditions of New England and alienated from them--a defiant Irish Catholic amid staid Yankees. After Andover and Harvard he taught English at the Loomis School in Windsor, Connecticut, one of the few prestigious prep schools that would hire a Catholic at the time. Burns stood out there as a precocious young man with enormous intellectual and musical gifts, a wicked sense of humor, an ability to inspire selected students (and infuriate colleagues), and boundless literary ambition. He was also--though it could barely be acknowledged in that time and place--gay. During World War II, Burns was stationed in North Africa and Italy, and from this experience he wrote his groundbreaking debut novel set in Naples, The Gallery (1947). It was not only one of the first novels to address gay life within the American military, but also to depict homosexuals openly and sympathetically. It presented an unvarnished look at GIs as occupiers of a foreign land, a perspective vastly different from subsequent portraits of a "greatest generation." Critics instantly labeled Burns one of the most promising literary voices of his generation. But, unprepared for fame and notoriety, struggling to contain a cynicism and bitterness stemming in part from his own nature, and in part from being gay in a homophobic time, Burns could never match his promise. Instead, in self-imposed exile in Italy, he descended into alcoholism and depression until his premature death in 1953. -- Jacket.