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by Lillian Faderman (Goodreads Author)
The year: 1810. The place: Edinburgh, Scotland. A student, Jane Cumming, accuses her school mistresses, Jane Pirie and Marianne Woods, of having an affair in the presence of their students. Dame Cumming Gordon, the wealthy and powerful grandmother of the accusing student, advises her friends to remove their daughters from the boarding school. Within days, the school is des ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published January 20th 1994 by Columbia University Press
(first published 1983)
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Apr 20, 2013 Moira Russell rated it really liked it · review of another edition
Wonderful and heartbreaking. This is almost like a lost fictional historical novel by Virginia Woolf -- yes, it really is that good, except even more empathic (Judith Halberstam's fairly useless introduction overemphasizes "Faderman's own commentary on Cumming," which seems to ignore the very heartfelt description of her fate at the end). I feared the framing device of the narrator-scholar and her lover Ollie commenting on the trial would be tiresome, but it is a wonderful addition to the story. ...more
An incredibly important book about how racial prejudice trumps even homophobia and misogyny. It's the true, well-documented and imaginatively-written story of the two "old maid" school teachers accused of lesbian activity by a dark-skinned (Indian) student. Who will be believed? The two white single women with no man to protect them, or the dark-skinned child with no whites to vouch for her? This book of social and historical commentary reads like a mystery novel, full of suspense.
In a case that over one hundred years later inspired the 1934 play The Children's Hour (adapted into a movie in 1961), the reputation and livelihood of two Scottish schoolmistresses was ruined when a girl under their care accused them of engaging in a sexual relationship in the same room as their sleeping charges. After the girl's influential grandmother removed her from the school and recommended to the other families that their children be removed as well, the two women sued the grandmother, c ...more
Lillian Faderman is an internationally known scholar of lesbian history and literature, as well as ethnic history and literature. Among her many honors are six Lambda Literary Awards, two American Library Association Awards, and several lifetime achievement awards for scholarship. She is the author of The Gay Revolution and the New York Times Notable Books, Surpassing the Love of Men and Odd Girls ...moreMore about Lillian Faderman...