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International Gay & Lesbian Review

Britannia's Glory: A History of Twentieth-Century Lesbians

by Emily Hamer

This abstract is from the back cover of the book.

Lesbians have fought in wars and fought against war, and they have tended the casualities of war, as the lives of Toupie Lowther, Esther Roper, Louisa Martindale and their comrades show. Lesbians have fought the police and been arrested; from the suffragettes to Pat Arrowsmith. Yet Mary Allen and Isobel Goldingham were also among the first policewomen. Lesbians have worked for the State in the civil service, the education system and the armed forces; and their sisters have worked to destroy the British Establishment.

Lesbians have always been involved in British feminism and they were the backbone of the suffrage movement from the constitution of Eleanor Rathbone to the radicalism of Esther Roper and the anarchism of Mary Allen. The politicization of lesbianism has not stopped with feminism; it is closely identified today with pacifism, the ecology movement, animal rights activism, vegetarianism and spirituality. The lesbians and feminists protesting against nuclear weapons at Greeham Common in the 1980s were inheritors of a long tradition. Through Myrtle Soloman, lesbian peace protester of the 1980s had a direct link with those of the 1950s like Sybil Morrison, and through Morrison back to the ex-suffragist lesbian peace campaigners of the Great War, like Esther Roper.

Britannia's Glory traces the lives of individual lesbians against the background of the politics and history of their period, and shows the infinite variety of ways in which lesbians made their lives in Britain during this century. This history has relevance to contemporary life and politics within the lesbian community. British lesbians have a long tradition of diversity, of action, of success and of pride, which is documented here in all its glory.

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International Gay & Lesbian Review
Los Angeles, CA