Intimate Friends: Women Who Loved Women, 1778-1928

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University of Chicago Press, Jun 30, 2004 - History - 314 pages
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Intimate Friends offers a fascinating look at the erotic friendships of educated English and American women over a 150-year period, culminating in the 1928 publication of The Well of Loneliness, Radclyffe Hall's scandalous novel of lesbian love. Martha Vicinus explores all-female communities, husband-wife couples, liaisons between younger and older women, female rakes, and mother-daughter affection. Women, she reveals, drew upon a rich religious vocabulary to describe elusive and complex erotic feelings.

Vicinus also considers the nineteenth-century roots of such contemporary issues as homosexual self-hatred, female masculinity, and sadomasochistic desire. Drawing upon diaries, letters, and other archival sources, she brings to life a variety of well known and historically less recognized women, ranging from the predatory Ann Lister, who documented her sexual activities in code; to Mary Benson, the wife of the Archbishop of Canterbury; to the coterie of wealthy Anglo-American lesbians living in Paris.

In vivid and colorful prose, Intimate Friends offers a remarkable picture of women navigating the uncharted territory of same-sex desire.
 

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Intimate friends: women who loved women, 1778-1928

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Denied higher education and means of self-support, how did passionately attached women live out their relationships? Vicinus (English, women's studies & history, Univ. of Michigan) describes couples ... Read full review

Contents

PART II QUEER RELATIONSHIPS
57
PART III CROSSAGE AND CROSSED LOVE
109
PART IV MODERNIST REFASHIONINGS
171
Beyond the Family Metaphor
229
The Principal Intimate Friends
239

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Page xxvi - Sometimes there came a sensation as if a hand was drawn softly along my cheek and neck. Sometimes it was as if •warm lips kissed me, and longer and more lovingly as they reached my throat, but there the caress fixed itself. My heart beat faster, my breathing rose and fell rapidly and full drawn; a sobbing, that rose into a sense of strangulation, supervened, and turned into a dreadful convulsion, in which my senses left me, and I became unconscious.

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About the author (2004)

Martha Vicinus is the Eliza M. Mosher Distinguished University Professor of English, Women's Studies, and History at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She is the author or editor of numerous works, including Hidden from History: Reclaiming the Gay and Lesbian Past, Lesbian Subjects: A Feminist Studies Reader, and Independent Women: Work and Community for Single Women, 1850-1920, the latter published by the University of Chicago Press.

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