17 Jan LesLit lights up our lives
Twenty or thirty years ago it was hard to get books about sex, let alone anything with lesbian content, so we treasured any reference, and even the few stray books (Mary Renault, James Baldwin) about gay men.
A book like The Well of Loneliness or The Loudest Whisper had two possible effects on women confused about their sexuality: either “heavens this is awful, stay in the closet and slam the door” or “whacko, I’m not the only one in the world!”
All That False Instruction, written by Kerryn Higgs under the pseudonym ‘Elisabeth Riley’ and now reissued under her real name was important because it was set in Sydney and many of us could relate to it.
Below is the range of books that many lesbians find pleasurable, enlightening, and sometimes the opposite!
Kerryn Higgs/(Elizabeth Riley) – All that False Instruction
Sarah Waters – Tipping the Velvet, Affinity, Fingersmith
Isabel Miller – Patience and Sarah
Katherine V. Forrest – Curious Wine, Murder at the Nightwood Bar, The Beverley Malibu
Jeanette Winterson – The Passion, Oranges are Not the Only Fruit, Written on the Body and The Lighthouse Keeping
Radclyffe Hall – The Well of Loneliness, The Unlit Lamp
Michael Baker – Our Three Selves: a Life of Radclyffe Hall
Sidney Abbott (Editor), Barbara Love (Editor) – Sappho Was a Right-On Woman: A Liberated View of Lesbianism
Druisilla Modjeska – The Orchard
Nigel Nicolson – Portrait of a Marriage
Mary Daly – Gyn/Ecology: The Metaethics of Radical Feminism
Marge Piercy – Woman on the Edge of Time
Katherine Forrest – Murder in the Nightwood Bar
Lesbian History Group – Not a Passing Phase
Miles Franklin – My Career Goes Bung
Judy Grahn – Another Mother Tongue
Rita May Brown – Ruby Fruit Jungle, Songs to a Handsome Woman, A Plain Brown Rapper
Elsa Gidlow – I Come With My Songs
A Lesbian Quarterly No 18 – Common Lives – Lesbian Lives
Claire Morgan – The Price of Salt – issued later in author’s real name
Patricia Highsmith – Carol
Kate Jennings – Mother I’m Rooted
Carol Anshaw – Lucky in the Corner
Lillian Hellman – The Loudest Whisper
Elaine Hobby, Chris White – What Lesbians do in Books
Meg Wolitzer – Hidden Pictures
Claire McNab – Lessons in Murder and others in the Carol Ashton series.
Carson McCullers – Member of the Wedding
Val McDermid – Lindsay Gordon series
Sarah Dreher – Stoner McTavish series
Mary Wings – She Came Too Late (etc)
All but a few of these titles are available from the Women’s Library, 8 – 10 Brown Street, Newtown, phone (02) 9557 7060.
Check out secondlifebookshop.com.au for secondhand editions of these books.