Passions Between Women looks at stories of lesbian desires, acts and identities from the Restoration to the beginning of the nineteenth century. Far from being invisible, the figure of the woman who felt passion for women in this period was a subject of confusion and contradiction: she could be put in a freak show as a 'hermaphrodite', denounced as a 'tribade' or 'lesbian', revered as a 'romantic friend', jailed as a 'female husband' or gossiped about as a 'woman-lover', 'tommy' or 'Sapphist'. Through an examination of a wealth of new medical, legal and erotic source material, together with re-readings of classics of English literature, Emma Donoghue uncovers the astonishing range of lesbian and bisexual identities described in British texts between 1668 and 1801. Female pirates and spiritual mentors, chambermaids and queens, poets and prostitutes, country idylls and whipping clubs all take their place in an intriguing panorama of lesbian lives and loves.
'Controversial, erotic and radical, Emma Donoghue's lesbian voyage of exploration outlines an astonishing spectrum of gender rebellion which creates a new map of eighteenth-century sexual territories and identities.' Patricia Duncker