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Episode Info: A new form of relationship arose between 19th century women, which had all the emotional trappings of romantic love, but was long considered to be merely an intense form of friendship. More recently, however, critics have wondered whether Victorian assumptions about the inherent chasteness of womankind allowed couples who would consider themselves lesbians today to hide in plain sight. These relationships came to be known as “Boston marriages,” both because a number of high profile Bostonians engaged in them, and because Henry James popularized the concept in his novel The Bostonians. As the story of the name indicates, real relationships between women were influenced by contemporary literature by James, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Oliver Wendall Holmes, but these authors also drew inspiration from the apparently romantic relationships they saw between women in their lives. Please support us on Patreon and check out the full show notes at: Boston Marriages Read the full text of The Bostonians, by Henry James. Read Kavanagh, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Alice James: a Biography, by Jean Strouse. “What Goes On in the Ladies Room? Sarah Orne Jewett, Annie Fields, and Their Community of Women,” by Judith Fryer in The Massachusetts Review. Annie Adams Fields by John Singer Sargent. A profile of Annie Adams Fields. “Do You Remember, Darling,” a poem by Sarah Orne Jewett. “Female Same-Sex Relationships in Novels by Longfellow, Holmes, and James,” by Lillian Faderman in The New England Quarterly. “Romantic Friends or a ‘Different Race of Creatures’? The Representation of Lesbian Pathology in Nineteenth Century America,” by Marylynne Diggs in Feminist Studies. “But Were They Gay? The Mystery of Same-Sex Love in the 19th Century,” by Jennie Rothenberg Gritz in The Atlantic. “How Women Crushed on Each Other Back in the Day,” by Erin Blakemore in JSTOR Daily. “Boston Marriages,” by Teresa Theophano for the GLBTQ Archive. Our header picture portrays Annie Adams Fields and Sarah Orne Jewett inside their famous drawing room at 148 Charles Street at the foot of Beacon Hill. It’s a parking garage today. Boston Book Club Improper Bostonians, not to be confused with the magazine Improper Bostonian, was published in 1998. The book was compiled by the History Project, which is an independent community archive of Boston’s LGBTQ history. The project started as an exhibit at Boston Public Library in 1996, focusing on the history of the LGBTQ community in Boston prior to Stonewall. After that exhibit drew tens of thousands of visitors, the History Project began adapting the material into the book, which was published two years later with a forward by congressman Barney Frank. The book attempts to reconstruct the often deliberately obscured history of homosexuality in Boston throughout history. It opens with a discussion of sodomy laws in the earliest days of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, whi...
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