Fashioning Sapphism: The Origins of a Modern English Lesbian Culture

Fashioning Sapphism: The Origins of a Modern English Lesbian Culture

Fashioning Sapphism: The Origins of a Modern English Lesbian Culture

Fashioning Sapphism: The Origins of a Modern English Lesbian Culture

Excerpt

The close companionship which existed for 40 years between Lady Ludlow and Miss Margaret Eleanor Pryce is revealed by the will of Miss Pryce, which has just been published. Miss Pryce, who left an estate valued at £89, 473, bequeathed to Lady Ludlow a diamond ring in the shape of a heart, and in her will stated:—“I beg her to wear it in memory of me. She may select anything else of mine, but I feel I cannot leave her anything more precious than my gratitude for all the love and trust she showed me during the many years we lived together, of which I set down my most deep and loving appreciation.”

—Glasgow Herald, August 21, 1928

The chief objection to the sort of relationship which Miss Radclyffe Hall attempts to justify is that it poisons all those other innocent, cheerful affectionate relationships, and leaves no part of life secure from the wandering dragon of lust.

W. R. Gordon, Daily News and Westminster Gazette, August 23, 1928

PUBLISHED IN BRITAIN only a few days apart, these news items in the Glasgow Herald and Daily News and Westminster Gazette represent love between women in profoundly different ways. As late as 1928 reports of women who lived in “close companionship” with others of their sex could appear in newspapers with wide circulation without necessarily triggering associations of sin, vice, decadence, perversion, sickness, or degeneracy. On the contrary, Lady Ludlow's housekeeper blithely informed a reporter, without inhibition or social embarrassment, that her employer's commitment to Miss Pryce was long-standing. Clearly, had the housekeeper thought for a moment her comments concerning her socially prominent mistress might in any way be construed as salacious, or had the reporter found a forty-year “friendship” between two women unnatural or unacceptable, the tenor of the article would have been completely different. What then is “revealed” by the will of Miss Pryce? Certain of the Glasgow Herald's readers may have surmised that the . . .

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