Friendships, Lesbianism and Identity in Victorian Britain

The York Historian

At first glance of the identities and sexuality of women in Victorian Britain, one assumes that the Victorians ‘denied, controlled, or muted public expression of active female sexuality’, however in the Victorian era it is clear that women were able to express a certain amount of sexuality through passionate friendships with other women. Friendships that women had with other women had an impact on society’s views of female sexuality and identity. There is a wealth of writing to support this idea; however, some of this writing also supports the idea of a lesbian identity that merges both female and male identities to create an identity, which can be seen by looking at Anne Lister, a lesbian, landowning woman in the 1800s. This separate identity was often viewed by the outside world to be very similar to that of a normal passionate friendship. Therefore, many people accepted this as a suitable…

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