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As I emphasized repeatedly in my podcast about Charlotte Cushman, the community of women discussed in this chapter deserved to have an entire historical mini-series created around them. There are so many personalities, so much drama, you could easily fill several seasons of tv. If you're writing sapphic historical fiction in the Victorian era you need to know about this milieu, if only so you are aware of the range of possible lives for those willing to do the work of slipping through the blind spots of society.

The “meat” of the chapters in this book are detailed biographical sketches of specific couples or women. This leaves me with the dilemma of whether to skim lightly over the details of their lives, or to dig deeply. For my own survival, I’m going to have to go with the first approach. I’ll summarize the introductory material in each chapter, which situates the biographies in the larger discussion, then mention just the essentials about the couples themselves.

The five people who read this blog regularly may have noticed that I skipped a LHMP post last week. I was feeling a bit overwhelmed by my "assignment" to do an entire series of dense books in a row, so I took a brief vacation before plunging in again. I'll try to find a balance between covering these next two book in a reasonable amount of time versus burning myself out. Especially because I'm thinking of doing NaNoWriMo this year, since I have a project that will be just at the right "detail outline but not started" stage.

Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast - Episode 181 (also 51d) - The Anandrine Sect - transcript

(Originally aired 2020/10/24 - listen here)

The Anandrine Sect

Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast - Episode 180 (previously 51c) – Book Appreciation with Samantha Rajaram

(Originally aired 2020/10/17 - listen here)

Transcript Pending.

Show Notes

In the Book Appreciation segments, our featured authors (or your host) will talk about one or more favorite books with queer female characters in a historic setting.

Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast - Episode 179 (previously 51b) - Interview with Samantha Rajaram

(Originally aired 2020/10/10 - listen here)

Transcript Pending.

Show Notes

A series of interviews with authors of historically-based fiction featuring queer women.

In this episode we talk about:

This isn't part of the Lesbian Historic Motif Project, as such. It's more of a digression into historical methods and sources. I'll link this from the LHMP entry that inspired it, and it I dig futher on the thread, I'll continue to link. For What Came Before, see here.

There is a valuable place in the world for "popular histories". Books that get the non-specialist reader interested in a particular topic, era, or person by presenting information about it in an informal "sound-bite" fashion, and especially by focusing on images or claims that will catch the imagination.

I confess it, I got a bit grumpy about this book long before I finished blogging it. And I don't think that was just because it felt like a bait-and-switch. I wanted to learn more about the social institution of women's companionate relations in general: how it played out in various situations, what the social and economic dynamics were, how it was instantiated at different class levels. I got a little of that, but a lot more of overly intricate micro-biographies of a fairly narrow slice of literary women, most of whom were connected to each other in some way.

Now we get to a set of biographies that are both intriguing and maddeningly skimpy. After chapters where the every movement and conversation of the subject is reconstructed from correspondence and memoirs, we have the story of a woman who -- without recourse to inheritance or marriage -- appears from obscurity with evidence that she somehow ammassed a comfortable fortune. How? Why? Where? When? No idea.


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