nly a brief overview can here be presented, along with some perhaps new approaches to what is already a well-trodden field of modern Gender Studies. One may reasonably suppose that productive and affect-laden female-female dyadic or multiple relationships have in fact been legion, whilst not the norm, throughout history. Pre-Neolithic lifestyles, with women (and children) closely interacting at “the home base” whilst the males were away for often extended periods on “the hunt”, would have been conducive to same-sex interactions of all kinds. After the Neolithic watershed of cultural development, women continued to congregate, now additionally at their new invention - the pottery hub - where modern archaeologists such as Kathleen Kenyon quickly recognised the telling uniformity (sharing and copying) of impressed designs on pots, often of a simple herring-bone style and maintained conservatively through many dump-sites, ritual interments and vertically-dated strata, e.g. at Jericho. Fast forward to the Victorian mill and factory age, and the absence of co-ed learning centres other than the earliest years of ‘cottage teaching’ and ‘home schooling’, and females continued to teach, train and care for other females. Emotional states and protracted involvements cannot be dismissed. Most have been lost to History, and only the more literary-minded and inclined occasionally now appear, recorded whether or not for posterity and fortunate with the passage of years.
1845. Eliza Cook. A Signed Autograph Letter. London. 9 Gloucester Buildings, Old Kent Road. Letter sent to the American writer Charlotte Cushman, with the author’s searching and conflicted impressions recorded on the death of a mother.
1853. Phebe Anne Hanaford. Lucretia the Quakeress or Principle Triumphant Boston. J. Buffum. American biographer of Lincoln, notable as a church minister and lesbian, and producer of tracts on anti-slavery. She lived with the woman Ellen Miles, known in congregation gossip as “the minister’s wife”. Her close friends included Sarah Barker and Sybil Jones.
1897. Jean-Luis Dubut de La Forest. Pathologique Sociale. Mademoiselle Tantale. Paris. Dupont. A frankly misogynist male writer who attempted to cover many alleged female sins, including the above and additionally monomania, nymphomania and susceptibility to hypnotism.
The prolific Victorian sexologist and author Henry Havelock Ellis, 1859-1939, was a much more thorough, accepting and accommodating researcher, arriving at a barely consummated marriage (though a lasting relationship) with the English lesbian and social writer Edith Lees. In the 3rd edition of his epochal study of Sexual Inversion - to which we return in more detail below - he not only continued his analysis of homosexual schoolboy behaviour at national Public Schools such as Eton, Harrow and Rugby (all decidedly not co-ed), but thoughtfully included a Supplemental Appendix B, on “The School Friendships of Girls”. His preferred methodology was that of intimate adult correspondence, over many years, with one contact often leading to others, and covering all phases of personal memories and sexual development. See Ellis (1897).
Last Modified 10 February 2021