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Not a Passing Phase: Reclaiming Lesbians in History 1840-1985

Not a Passing Phase: Reclaiming Lesbians in History 1840-1985Lesbian History GroupThe Women’s Press1989

Everything you’ve always wanted to know about women’s history but were afraid to ask, illuminated in this lively and contentious collection of essays.

Have lesbians been expunged from history by academics and biographers who wish to deny their existence? The authors of Not a Passing Phase certainly believe so. Here they redress the balance. Re-examining the passionate friendships of writers such as Charlotte Bronte, George Eliot, Edith Simcox, Vera Brittain and Winifred Holtby; uncovering invisible networks between women; and exploring the fate of lesbians within the professions, they offer new insights into a range of literary and historical movements, and present a new and political approach to historical research.

The Lesbian History Group has provided a forum for feminist scholars since 1984. Contributors to this volume include Rosemary Auchmuty, author of A World of Girls (1992), Alison Oram, and Sheila Jeffreys, writer of The Spinster and Her Enemies (1985), Anticlimax (1990) and The Lesbian Heresy (1994).

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Does It Matter If They Did It? / Sheila Jeffreys
Chapter 2: Through All Changes and Through All Chances: the relationship of Ellen Nussey and Charlotte Brontèˆ / Elaine Miller
Chapter 3: Edith Simcox and Heterosexism in Biography: a lesbian-feminist exploration / Pam Johnson
Chapter 4: By Their Friends We Shall Know Them: the lives and networks of some women in North Lambeth, 1880-1940 / Rosemary Auchmuty
Chapter 5: “Embittered, Sexless or Homosexual”: attacks on spinster teachers, 1918-1939 / Alison Oram
Chapter 6: You’re a Dyke, Angela!: Elsie J. Oxenham and the rise and fall of the schoolgirl story / Rosemary Auchmuty
Chapter 7: “The Best Friend Whom Life Has Given Me”: Does Winifred Holtby have a place in lesbian history? / Pam Johnson
Chapter 8: Butch and Femme: now and then / Sheila Jeffreys
Chapter 9: An Introduction to Books for Lesbian History studies / Avril Rolph, Linda Kerr and Jane Allen