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Lesbian Historic Motif Project: Tags for Literary Passionate Friendships

Monday, February 27, 2017 - 06:30
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This category of tags covers literary characters who are portrayed as being in intense or romantic friendships with other women where there is no overt erotic component and typically where they are not living as a committed couple. Check out the permanent page if you want to follow up on links to the publications that discuss these works.

  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream (William Shakespeare) - 16th century English play in which one subplot involves a close female friendship disrupted by the shifting desires of the men they love.
  • Antiochus the Great (Jane Wiseman) - 18th century English play that includes a close emotional bond between a maidservant and her mistress.
  • Aurora Leigh (Elizabeth Barrett Browning) - 19th century English verse novel about two women who form a friendship and set up a household together as a result of being involved with the same man.
  • Can You Forgive Her? (Anthony Trollope) - 19th century English novel in which two close female friends share a household via one’s marriage to the other’s brother.
  • Clarissa (Samuel Richardson) - 18th century English novel in which two female friends are separated tragically by a jealous and controlling male suitor.
  • Euphemia (Charlotte Lennox) - 18th century English novel that satirizes passionate friendship using the stock figures of a “mannish” Amazon and a bluestocking.
  • Fettered for Life (Lillie Devereux Blake) - 19th century American feminist novel that includes a cross-dressing woman and committed female friendships, though there is a heteronormative resolution.
  • Frene (Galeran de Bretagne) - The 13th century French romance “Galeran de Bretagne” includes the story of “Frene”, also found in the lais of Marie de France, which features themes of female friendship and alliance.
  • Henrietta (Charlotte Lennox) - An English novel (1758) involving passionate friendship with a significant class difference.
  • Joanna Traill (Annie E. Holdsworth) - Late 19th century novel by an Anglo-Jamaican writer that features a close friendship between a “fallen woman” and her redeemer.
  • Julie ou la Nouvelle Heloise (Jean-Jacques Rousseau) - 18th century French novel revolving around the close bond between two female friends, though that bond is subordinated to their marriages.
  • Kavanagh The Love of Parson Lord (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow) - 19th century American novel that includes a close female friendship that is broken off by the transfer of one woman’s affections to a man.
  • L’Escoufle - 13th century French romance whose heroine is supported by several close friendships with other female characters that include erotic components.
  • Lettres de Milady Juliette Catesby a Milady Henriette Campley son amie (Jeanne Riccoboni) - French novel (1759) about a passionate female friendship.
  • Love and Honor (William Davenant) - 17th century English play in which one women sacrifices herself to save a close female friend.
  • Mary Pix - 18th c English playwright who treated the conflict between the heterosexual imperative and passionate female friendship.
  • Millennium Hall (Sarah Scott) - 18th century English utopian novel in which women bound by close friendships create a community with charitable ideals.
  • Monsieur d’Olive (George Chapman) - 17th century English play in which the strength of female friendship is acknowledged in the figure of a woman mourning her lost friend.
  • Much Ado About Nothing (William Shakespeare) - 16th century English play that contrasts supportive female friendship with fickle heterosexual ones.
  • Ormond: or the Secret Witness (Charles Brockden Brown) - 18th century American novel in which the close friendship between two women prevails over husbands and suitors.
  • Pamela (Samuel Richardson) - 18th century English novel that contrast positive depictions of platonic female friendships with condemnation of same-sex desire.
  • Roman de la Rose ou de Guillaume de Dole (Jean Renart) - Medieval French romance discussed in the context of themes of female friendship and alliance.
  • Rosalynde (Thomas Lodge) - 16th century English play that features a committed female couple.
  • Roxana (Daniel Defoe) - English novel (1724) involving a passionate friendship between women.
  • Shirley (Charlotte Brontë) - 19th century English novel that deals with themes of close female friendship in conflict with heterosexual relations.
  • The Bostonians (Henry James) - 19th century American novel depicting the conflict between passionate female friendship and heteronormativity.
  • The British Recluse (Eliza Haywood) - English novel (1722) on themes of passionate friendship between women.
  • The City Jilt (Eliza Haywood) - 18th c English novel by an author who often focused on themes of female passionate friendship and erotic attraction.
  • The Cry (Sarah Fielding & Jane Collier) - 18th c English novel with themes of passionate friendship between women.
  • The Fair Moralist (Charlotte MacCarthy) - English novel (1745) involving passionate friendship with marked class difference.
  • The History of Rasselas (Samuel Johnson) - 18th century English play depicting a devoted friendship between a woman and her maidservant.
  • The Memoirs of Sophia Baddeley (Elizabeth Steele) - English novel (1787) involving a passionate friendship between women.
  • The Rash Resolve (Eliza Haywood) - 18th c English novel by an author who often focused on themes of female passionate friendship and erotic attraction.
  • The Rebel of the Family (Eliza Lynn Linton) - 19th century English novel involving conflict between committed female friendship and heteronormativity.
  • The Reputation of Mademoiselle Claude (Dorothy Blomfield) - 19th century English story in which a woman’s devoted friendship is valorized but has tragic consequences.
  • The Tea-Table (Eliza Haywood) - 18th century English novel that portrays devoted female friendships with implications of committed partnership.
  • The Tragedy of Chris (Rosa Mulholland) - 20th century English novel involving the committed friendship between two women with a “fallen woman”-protector theme.
  • The Unaccountable Wife (Jane Barker) - 18th century English novel featuring a devoted, if one-sided, friendship between a woman and her servant.
  • The Winter’s Tale (William Shakespeare) - 17th c English play with minor theme of devoted female friendship.
  • Two Noble Kinsmen (William Shakespeare and John Fletcher) - 17th century English play in which devoted female friendship is positively contrasted with heterosexual marriage.
  • Yvain - 12th century French romance featuring a devoted friendship between a woman and her maidservant.
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