lesbian history seems to be made up largely of pair bonding
rather than larger networks. Numerous female/female marriages
can be documented back through the 17th century. In the
early 1730s, Lady Frances Brudenell, the bisexual widowed
Duchess of Newburgh, ruled a social circle of tribades in
Dublin, her primary lover being Lady Allen. In France, the
lesbian Sect of Anandrynes was founded in 1770 by Thérèse
de Fleury. The leader of the group was the actress Francoise
Raucourt, who was imprisoned by the Jacobins in 1793 but
released; Napoleon was an admirer. When she died in 1815
the curé of St Roch ‘refused to admit her body
to the church. A mob of 15,000 broke in bearing her coffin,
and an order of Louis XVIII assured her the last rites’
and she was buried in Père Lachaise.
The rise of the women’s movement in the later 18th
century enabled women to work together towards intellectual
and cultural goals, within a ‘homosocial’ environment.
Most of the Bluestockings were unmarried, widowed or separated,
who set up all-female establishments. By the late 19th early
20th century lesbianism and feminism was recognized: ‘It
is pretty certain that such comrade-alliances, of a quite
devoted kind, are becoming increasingly common, and especially
among women who are working out the great cause of their
own sex’s liberation.’ (Edward Carpenter)
The Velvet Icon Gallery is our tribute to some of the most
popular female Gay Icons throughout world history.
We will regularly be adding new biographies to this small
selection of Icon Profiles.