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Claiming Lesbian History: The Romance Between Fact and Fiction
Women's and Gender Studies
  • Linda Garber, Santa Clara University
Document Type
Publication Date
Taylor & Francis
The contested field of lesbian history exists along a continuum, with undisputed evidence on one end and informed speculation on the other. Lesbian historical fiction extends the spectrum, envisioning the lives of lesbian pirates, war heroes, pioneers, bandits, and stock romantic characters, as well as the handful of protagonists examined here whose quests specifically highlight the difficulty and importance of researching the lesbian past. The genre blossomed in the 1980s, just as the Foucauldian insistence that homosexual identity did not exist before the late nineteenth century gained sway in the academy. The proliferation of lesbian historical fictions signals the growing desire for more thorough (if not completely factual) historical underpinnings of the burgeoning lesbian identities, communities, and politics set in motion in the 1970s.

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of Lesbian Studies on January 9, 2015, available online:

Citation Information
Garber, L. (2015). Claiming Lesbian History: The Romance Between Fact and Fiction. Journal of Lesbian Studies, 19(1), 129–49.