Skip to main content

Distributed for University of British Columbia Press

Awfully Devoted Women

Lesbian Lives in Canada, 1900-65

The lives of many lesbians prior to 1965 remain cloaked in mystery. Historians have turned the spotlight on upper-middle-class “romantic friends” and on working-class butch and femme women, but the lives of the lower-middle-class majority remain in the shadows. Awfully Devoted Women offers a portrait of middle-class lesbianism in the decades before the gay rights movement in English Canada. This intimate study of the lives of women who were forced to love in secret not only challenges the idea that lesbian relationships in the past were asexual, it also reveals the courage it took to explore desire in an era when women were supposed to know little about sexuality.

328 pages

Sexuality Stud

Table of Contents



Part 1: Awfully Devoted Odd Women

1 Relationships Between Women: The “knitting together of mind and spirit”

2 Lesbian Social Worlds, 1900-50: “So there seems to be a fair amount of it about”

3 Physical Sexuality: “How did you get here Miss Brown?”

Part 2: Lesbian Lives after the Second World War

4 Growing Up under Heteronormativity

5 Sexual Relationships in Postwar Canada: “We found our way to it easily enough”

6 Making the Unspoken Plain: Sexual Practice

7 Relationships: Lesbian Couples and Their Families

8 Middle-Class Lesbian Community in the 1950s and 1960s



Selected Bibliography


Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press