"Female Fortune is the book which inspired Sally Wainwright to write Gentleman Jack, now a major drama series for the BBC and HBO. Lesbian landowner Anne Lister inherited Shibden Hall in 1826. She was an impressive scholar, fearless traveller and successful businesswoman, even developing her own coalmines. Her extraordinary diaries, running to 4–5 million words, were partly written in her own secret code and recorded her love affairs with startling candour. The diaries were included on UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register in 2011. Jill Liddington’s classic edition of the diaries tells the story of how Anne Lister wooed and seduced neighbouring heiress Ann Walker, who moved in to live with Anne and her family in 1834. Politically active, Anne Lister door-stepped her tenants at the 1835 Election to vote Tory. And socially very ambitious, she employed architects to redesign both the Hall and the estate. Yet Ann Walker had an inconvenient number of local relatives, suspicious of exactly how Anne Lister could pay for all her grand improvements. Tensions grew to a melodramatic crescendo when news reached Shibden of the pair being burnt in effigy. This 2022 edition includes a fascinating Afterword on the recent discovery of Ann Walker’s own diary. Female Fortune is essential reading for those who watched Gentleman Jack and want to know more about the extraordinary woman that was Anne Lister.
This book examines the ways in which women were able to deploy ambiguous concepts such as the 'career woman' and the 'bachelor girl' to simultaneously indicate and mask a lesbian identity. Contemporary anxieties about female same-sex desire which attached to these figures offered the opportunity to deploy them as an indication of potential sexual deviance. But their very ambiguity simultaneously afforded a protection from censure which more explicit terms such as 'lesbian' did not. These cultural connections between 'deviant' and 'normative' models of sexual identity have become the focus of considerable attention by queer theorists and historians in recent years. Queer historians have sought to analyse the institutional practices and discourses which produce sexual knowledge, and the ways in which these organise social life. They have concentrated their research on the binary opposition of homosexuality and heterosexuality as the dominant epistemological framework of knowledge about sexuality. The book seeks to explore the connections between space and cultural practices in lesbian history and is therefore concerned with the material world of post-war Britain. Identities such as 'tomboy' were invested with specific meanings in particular spatial contexts. As a child in rural Essex in the early 1950s, Nina Jenkins could use the term 'tomboy' to explain and excuse her desire to climb trees and be part of a boys' street gang.
Our account of lesbianism in post-war Britain ends in 1971. However, the
subsequent history of the women we have encountered could in many
ways be said to bring us back to where we started in the archives. This
story would therefore not be complete if we failed to consider the history
of the Hall Carpenter Oral History Archive itself, and its role in shaping
the ways in which post-war lesbianhistory can be imagined.
In the decade after 1971, new social and political conceptualisations of
lesbianism proliferated. Following the demise of Arena Three, a
practices in lesbianhistory and is therefore concerned with
the material world of post-war Britain. Identities such as ‘tomboy’ were
invested with specific meanings in particular spatial contexts, so that as a
child in rural Essex in the early 1950s, Nina Jenkins could use the term to
explain and excuse her desire to climb trees and be part of a boys’ street
gang but, when Margaret Cranch’s Commanding Officer employed it in a
WRAC training camp in the same period to describe the young cadet’s
image, it was transformed into an accusation of sexual deviance. It is only
-ageist, antiablist, anti-sizeist, pro-feminist and sex-positive orientation. 7
This collection of essays starts from the premise that, in spite of its problems and limitations, queer is indeed a useful category of analysis for students of modern British history and sexuality, both as a big-tent term and because it builds on a body of recent scholarship that differs in significant ways from the pioneering gay and lesbianhistory of the 1970s. But, like the 2010 conference on ‘British Queer History’ at McGill University from which it arises, it avoids prescription, imposes
The archive has assumed a new significance in the history of sex, and this book visits a series of such archives, including the Kinsey Institute’s erotic art; gay masturbatory journals in the New York Public Library; the private archive of an amateur pornographer; and one man’s lifetime photographic dossier on Baltimore hustlers. The subject topics covered are wide-ranging: the art history of homoeroticism; casual sex before hooking-up; transgender; New York queer sex; masturbation; pornography; sex in the city. The duality indicated by the book’s title reflects its themes. It is an experiment in writing an American sexual history that refuses the confines of identity sexuality studies, spanning the spectrum of queer, trans, and the allegedly ‘normal’. What unites this project is a fascination with sex at the margins, refusing the classificatory frameworks of heterosexuality and homosexuality, and demonstrating gender and sexual indecision and flexibility. And the book is also an exploration of the role of the archive in such histories. The sex discussed is located both in the margins of the archives, what has been termed the counterarchive, but also, importantly, in the pockets of recorded desire located in the most traditional and respectable repositories. The sexual histories in this book are those where pornography and sexual research are indistinguishable; where personal obsession becomes tomorrow’s archive. The market is potentially extensive: those interested in American studies, sexuality studies, contemporary history, the history of sex, psychology, anthropology, sociology, gender studies, queer studies, trans studies, pornography studies, visual studies, museum studies, and media studies.
Women Art Workers constitutes the first comprehensive history of the network of women who worked at the heart of the English Arts and Crafts movement from the 1870s to the 1930s. Challenging the long-standing assumption that the Arts and Crafts simply revolved around celebrated male designers like William Morris, this book instead offers a new social and cultural account of the movement, which simultaneously reveals the breadth of the imprint of women art workers upon the making of modern society. Thomas provides unprecedented insight into how women – working in fields such as woodwork, textiles, sculpture, painting, and metalwork – navigated new authoritative roles as ‘art workers’ by asserting expertise across a range of interconnected cultures so often considered in isolation: from the artistic to the professional, intellectual, entrepreneurial, and domestic. Through examination of newly discovered institutional archives and private papers, and a wide range of unstudied advertisements, letters, manuals, photographs, and calling cards, Women Art Workers elucidates the critical importance of the spaces around which women conceptualised alternative creative and professional lifestyles: guild halls, exhibitions, homes, studios, workshops, and the cityscape. Shattering the traditional periodisation of the movement as ‘Victorian’, this research reveals that the early twentieth century was a critical juncture at which women art workers became ever more confident in promoting their own vision of the Arts and Crafts. Shaped by their precarious gendered positions, they opened up the movement to a wider range of social backgrounds and interests, and redirected the movement’s radical potential into contemporary women-centred causes.
In its contributions to the study of material social differences, queer theoretical writing has mostly assumed that any ideas which embody 'difference' are valuable. More than this, where it is invoked in contemporary theory, queerness is often imagined as synonymous with difference itself. This book uncovers an alternative history in queer cultural representation. Through engagement with works from a range of queer literary genres from across the long twentieth century – fin-de-siècle aestheticism, feminist speculative fiction, lesbian middle-brow writing, and the tradition of the stud file – the book elucidates a number of formal and thematic attachments to ideas that have been denigrated in queer theory for their embodiment of sameness: uselessness, normativity, reproduction and reductionism. Exploring attachments to these ideas in queer culture is also the occasion for a broader theoretical intervention: Same Old suggests, counterintuitively, that the aversion they inspire may be of a piece with how homosexuality has been denigrated in the modern West as a misguided orientation towards sameness. Combining queer cultural and literary history, sensitive close readings and detailed genealogies of theoretical concepts, Same Old encourages a fundamental rethinking of some of the defining positions in queer thought.
-on, all the while continuing to faithfully produce their monthly magazine for subscribers both across the UK and overseas. 5 When Arena Three eventually folded in 1971 they had so successfully aided the formation of communities, both physical and conceptual, that Sappho magazine and its various satellite social groups were able to step in to cater for the increasing demand.
Thanks to the groundbreaking work of historians such as Emily Hamer, Rebecca Jennings and Alison Oram, scholars of lesbianhistory now have a much more vivid picture of postwar lesbians
because this is, arguably, the first time that it’s been possible to
narrate lesbianhistory so openly, and for writers to publicly draw
connections between themselves and gay women in the past.
Self-conscious, reflexive historical fictions such as The Night
Watch suggest that lesbians writing historical fiction now are in
effect a ‘second generation’, inheriting not the trauma of a
preceding generation but the dual trauma of the relative silence
where lesbianhistory might, perhaps, have been, and of the
knowledge of oppression of individuals. This ‘second