Skip to content Skip to navigation

All LHMP event / person tags

These are people or events.
Author with Themes of Gender/Feminism

Authors who frequently address issues of gender or sexuality in literary works (individual works may also be tagged)

Author: Sex Between Women

Authors who frequently includes descriptions of sex between women in literary works (individual works may also be tagged)

Historic Couples: Passionate Friends

Women who were known for engaging in passionate friendships with other women when the relationship was not publicly considered to be sexual. This category covers cases where there may not have been a specific partnership or where the women never lived as a couple. (See also "Historic Couples: Romantic Pair".)

Historic Cross-dressing: Female Husband

Female Husband - As defined for "historic crossdressing" but where a person living as male enters into marriage or a marriage-like relationship with a woman. This category includes some individuals who could be interpreted as trans men.

Historic Cross-dressing: General

Any instance of a woman (or someone assigned as female) wearing male-coded garments, either overtly or for the purpose of passing as male, that doesn't fall in one of the following more specific groups.

Historic Cross-dressing: Military

As defined for cross-dressing in general, but specifically for the purpose of entering the military. (Sailors may fall in this or the general group depending on the nature of the service.)

Historic Cross-dressing: Passing/Transgender Themes

Examples of cross-dressing where there is significant evidence for an alternate interpretation as a trans man, but where marriage is not a core element of the story.

Historic Cross-dressing: Transvestite Saints

Any instance (either historic or fictionalized--I've lumped them together) where the motivation for passing as male is to enter a religious profession restricted to men or to escape a heteronormative life in order to pursue a religious vocation. In the latter case, the cross-dressing may be temporary and the religious profession may be entered as a woman. I've kept the label "transvestite saint" that is used in the literature, although in general I've avoided the word "transvestite" as outdated and carrying implications of identity rather than behavior.

Literary Crossdressing

Examples from literature of women (or those presented as women) wearing masculine garments, in part or in whole. This group focuses on examples where there are no resulting romantic plot elements.

Literary Crossdressing - Desire

This group covers works where cross-dressing in a work of literature creates a context for either the appearance or the reality of same-sex desire. This can include a woman desiring another woman who is presenting as a man, but it can also include encounters between a woman and a man who is presenting as a woman.

Literary Innuendo and Flirtation

Situations in literature where women engage in flirtatious behavior, even if not inspired directly by erotic desire, or where there is innuendo about erotic potential between women, whether or not any action is taken.

Literary Passionate Friendship

This category covers literary characters who are portrayed as being in intense romantic friendships with other women where there is no overt erotic component and typically where they are not living as a committed couple.

Literary Predatory Erotics

I've borrowed this term from Denise Walen's work on themes in early modern drama to indicate literary characters where the desire of one woman for another is framed as a non-consensual, predatory relationship. In addition to genuine sexual desire, this may include characters who simply use sexual aggression as a means of controling or punishing another woman.

Literary Same-Sex Love

This group covers literary examples of romantic love between women that is presented as the equivalent of a heterosexual bond, or that clearly has an erotic component. The dividing line between this group and "Romantic Friendship" is fuzzy, but characters are more likely to be classified as Same-Sex Love if they share living arrangements, present themselves as a bonded couple, actively avoid marriage or relationships with men, or had a clear or strongly implied physical relationship.

Literary Sexual Education

Works in which sexual activity between women is explicitly depicted as being "training" for heterosexual activity.

Non-Fiction/General Authors: Descriptive Works

Authors (or their works) describing gender or sexuality issues as non-fiction

Non-Fiction/General Authors: Philosophical Works

Authors (or their works) discussing gender/sexuality issues in a more theoretical fashion

Poetry: Love Between Women

Poetic works or authors of works that feature depictions of romantic love or desire between women.

Poetry: Sex Between Women

Poetic works or authors of poetry that depict or allude to sexual activity between women. A significant number of works in this category are written from a prurient or disapproving male viewpoint.

Reputed Lesbian

Historic cases of women who had documented sexual relationships with women, or whose contemporaries are recorded as believing they did. This group collects cases that don't fall in a more specific category.

Romantic Pair

Women who were a romantic couple of some type, whether or not the relationship was sexual. (As a rule, if a sexual relationship is documented, such couples will be listed in the "Reputed Lesbian" group instead.) In some cases, only one member of the couple is listed, but she is relevant to the Project because of such a relationship. The nature of these relationships is quite varied.

A Christian Turn’d Turke (Robert Daborne)

17th century English play with orientalist themes in which a woman disguised as a boy attracts a woman’s erotic desire.

A Drama in Muslin (George Moore)

19th century English novel in which a woman’s erotic desire for a woman is paralleled by physical deformity and is portrayed as outside the conventions of passionate friendship.

A Game at Chess (Thomas Middleton)

17th century English play in which a female character makes sexualized overtures to a woman as part of serving a man’s purpose.

A History of My Life (Giacomo Casanova)

18th century Italian fictionalized biography that includes erotic encounters between women (that also include the male character).

A Madd Couple Well Matcht (Richard Brome)

17th century English play where the female protagonist in male disguise flirts with other women to divert their attention from the man she desires.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (William Shakespeare)

16th century English play in which one subplot involves a close female friendship disrupted by the shifting desires of the men they love.

A New System of Freedom (Charlotte von Stein)

19th century German novel with subversive, cross-dressing working class characters.

A Sunless Heart (Edith Johnstone)

Late 19th century English(?) novel including an obsessive emotional relationship in the context of a girls’ school.

A Woman Appeared to Me (Renée Vivien)

Early 20th century French autobiographical novel about the author’s relationsihp with Natalie  Clifford Barney.

Abu Nasr bin Yahya bin Abbas al-Maghribi al-Samaw’uli

12th century writer in Arabic who discusses why women might prefer lesbianism.

Adah Isaacs Menken

19th century American poet and actress, a friend of George Sand while living in Paris. Her poems include themes of devotion and eroticism between women.

Addie Brown and Rebecca Primus

19th century African-American women whose correspondence records an erotic friendship that their community considered marriage-like. 

Afectos de odio y amor (Pedro Calderón de la Barca)
Agnes de Castro (Aphra Behn or Catharine Trotter Cockburn)

Note: there are two separate plays by this title but sources aren’t always clear which is being discussed, so I’ve used a combined tag when the identity is uncertain. 17th century English play about two women competing for the love of the same man. In some versions, the play ends tragically with the women bonded together.

Agnes de Castro (Catharine Trotter Cockburn)

Note: there are two separate plays by this title but sources aren’t always clear which is being discussed. This tag identifies the later work with a stronger depiction of love between women. 18th century English play about two women competing for the love of the same man. The play ends tragically with the women bonded together.

Agnes of Monçada

15th century Spanish(?) woman who cross-dressed as a man to life as a holy hermit. Her story is similar to the semi-fictional biographies of “transvestite saints” from the early Christian era.

Ahmad Bin Mohamad Bin Ali al-Yemeni

9th century writer in Arabic who discusses a wide variety of topics related to lesbianism.

Al Jaheth (quoting Muthana Bin Zuhair)

9th century writer in Arabic who discusses variations of sexual orientation/preference in people and animals.

Al-Aghani (Abu Faraj Al-Asfahani)

10th century Arabic collection of lyrics and poetry that includes several works referirng to sex between women. (Full title “Kitab Al-Aghani” or “Book of Songs”.)

Al-Muhalla (Ibn Hazm Al-Andalusi)

11th century writer in Arabic who discusses to Islamic legal context of lesbianism.

Albert und Albertine (Friederike Unger)

19th century German novel in which foreign cross-dressing woman critiques gender concepts.

Alda (Guillaume de Blois)

12th century French story in which a man disguising himself as a woman to get a woman in bed has to explain his penis as being “purchased in the market”.

Alice French aka Octave Thanet

19th century American novelist who shared her life with Jane Allen Crawford.

Alice James & Katharine Peabody Loring
Allan’s Wife (H. Rider Haggard)

19th century English adventure story (in the Allan Quatermain cycle) that includes a literally monstrous female character whose jealousy over the title character results in tragedy.

Almira Paul

19th century Canadian woman who cross-dressed to work as a sailor.

Amadis de Gaule

14th century Spanish romance that includes a cross-dressing female knight who attracts a woman’s desire and returns it.

Ambroise Paré

16th century French author who wrote “Memorable Stories About Women Who Have Degenerated Into Men” (1573), i.e., case histories of transgender or intersex individuals interpreted as having experienced a physiological sex change.

Amy Levy

19th century English writer who authored several poems expressing the author’s desire for other women.

Amy Lowell & Ada Dwyer Russell
Amy Poulter/James Howard and Arabella Hunt

17th century English women who married each other, with Amy passing as the man James Howard.

An Epistle from SIgnora F-a to a Lady

An erotic poem (Italian, 1727) from one lady to another.

Ana Aler & Mariana López
Anakreon
Anandrine Sect

 

Anandrine Sect - A fictitious secret lesbian sex club of later 18th century France to which were attributed bizarre and scandalous sexual rituals.

Añasco el de Talavera (Alvaro Cubillo)

17th century Spanish play in which a woman competes openly with a man for a woman’s love.

Ancrene Wisse
André du Laurens

16th century French medical writer who discussed the function of the clitoris and its relation to lesbianism.

Ane Norton and Alice Pickford

An 18th century English marriage record lists this couple with no comment, although both appear to have female names.

Anecdotes of a Convent (Helen Williams)

18th century English novel in which a girl being educated in a convent falls in love with a school-fellow, only to learn later it was a boy in disguise.

Angela of Bohemia

12th century sister of King Ottokar I of Bohemia who fled an unwanted marriage in male disguise and became a nun. Her story is similar to some semi-fictional saints lives from the early Christian era.

Angelina Weld Grimké & Mamie Burrill
Angélique Marie Josèphe Brulon

18th century French woman who cross-dressed to serve in the army.

Ann Bailey
Ann Hannah and Margaret Marshall

18th century American couple charged in court with “cohabitation” using language that typically refers to a case of adultery.

Ann Yearsley and Hannah More

18th century English couple, complicated by the class differential between working-class poet Yearsley and her bluestocking mentor More.

Anna Lühring

18th century German woman who cross-dressed to serve in the military.

Anna Seward & Honora Sneyd

18th century English devoted romantic friends, though they never had the opportunity to share a home.

Anne Bonny

18th century English woman who cross-dressed during a career in piracy.

Anne Conway Damer

18th century English woman who had passionate friendships/partnerships with women that were widely rumored to be sexual.

Anne Grandjean

An 18th century French woman who, when she confessed to a priest that she was in love with a woman, was told that it meant she must actually be a man. Anne lived as a man for a while and married a woman, but later the authorities changed their mind about her.

Anne Jane Thornton

19th century Irish woman who cross-dressed to serve in the military.

Anne Whitney & Abby Adeline Manning
Antiochus the Great (Jane Wiseman)

18th century English play that includes a close emotional bond between a maidservant and her mistress.

Antoinette Berg

18th century German woman who cross-dressed to join an English regiment in the Netherlands against France.

Anything for a Quiet Life (Thomas Middleton and Webster)

17th century English play in which a woman in male disguise is accused of being seduced by another woman and they--with her gender revealed--taunt the accusers by acknowledging they have shared a bed.

Aphra Behn

17th century English playwright and poet whose work includes female homoerotic themes and who may have had romantic or sexual relationships with women.

Arcadia (Philip Sidney)

16th century English work in which a man disguises himself as an Amazon to gain access to the woman he desires. Includes her internal struggles to accept love for (who she believes to be) a woman.

Are These Women? A Novel of the Third Sex (Sind es Frauen?) (Aimée Duc)

Early 20th century  German novel about lesbian relationships.

Artus' Court (E.T.A. Hofmann)

19th c German novel with cross-dressing themes.

As You Like It (William Shakespeare)

16th century English play. One of Shakespeare’s several works that feature women falling in love with cross-dressed women.

Asklepiades

Classical Greek author of an epigram implying a lesbian relationship.

Astraea (Leonard Willan)

17th century English play, based on d’Urfé’s “L’Astrée” in which a man and woman both court the goddess Diana in a competition for who is the better lover. There is also a conventional gender-disguise same-sex attraction plot.

August Strindberg

19th century Swedish writer who satirized his ex-wife as a lesbian, with explicit sexual descriptions.

Aurora Leigh (Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

19th century English verse novel about two women who form a friendship and set up a household together as a result of being involved with the same man.

Avicenna

Persian intellectual (980-1037) whose medical writings include a discussion of female sexual response, with including sex between women.

Babyloniaka (Iamblichos)

2nd century Greek story (now lost) about a daughter of the king of Egypt who loved and married a woman.

Barbara Hill (John Brown)

18th century English person born Barbara Hill and living as a man (John Brown) recorded as having married a woman who continued the relationship after the matter became public.

Bartolommeo della Rocca

15th century Italian writer who discusses physiological signs of sexual orientation, specifically in the context of chiromancy (palm-reading).

Bathal

9th century courtesan and Arabic-language poet openly known to enjoy sex with women.

Belinda (Maria Edgeworth)

19th century English novel involving an aggressively “masculine” woman who pursues the title character romantically.

Benedetta Carlini

17th century Italian woman who had sexual relations with a fellow nun in a complex context of religious mania.

Bertelmina Wale & Maeyken Joosten/Abraham Joosten

17th century Dutch couple. Maeyken left a husband and children to court Bertelmina under the name Pieter Verburgh, and they became betrothed and engaged in a sexual relationship, although Maeyken was not living as a man at the time. Maeyken then began wearing male clothing and using the name Abraham Joosten and the two were married, but Maeyken/Abraham was later tried for “sodomy” and exiled.

Bertolina called Guercia

13th century Italian woman tried (in absentia) for sexual relations with other women.

Bettina Brentano-von Arnim & Karoline von Günderode

19th century German women who enjoyed a romantic friendship. Both women also have publications tagged separately.

Bible Moralisée
Brennoralt or the Discontented Colonel (John Suckling)

17th century English play that involves multiple homoerotic scenarios enabled by cross-dressing, but also an affirmation of desire between two knowing women.

Brynhildr

The valkyrie Brynhildr has connections to the “maiden warrior” motif appearing in medieval Norse sources, which typically includes cross-dressing.

Caelius Aurelianus

4th century Roman writer who discusses varieties of sexual orientation, including lesbianism.

Can You Forgive Her? (Anthony Trollope)

19th century English novel in which two close female friends share a household via one’s marriage to the other’s brother.

Canterbury Tales (Geoffrey Chaucer)

14th century English poem consisting of linked travelers tales. The Parson’s tale includes reference to “sodomy” by women, but this is not necessarily a reference to homosexual activity.

Carmilla (Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu)

19th century Irish novel involving a lesbian vampire.

Casa della Zitelle

 

A 15-16th century Venetian charitable institution for “at risk girls” that considered the potential for homoerotic relationships.

Catalina de Belunçe & Matiche de Oyarzún
Catalina de Erauso

A 17th century Basque person, assigned female, who fled a convent and lived as a man, including spending time in the military in the New World. Late in life, Catalina was given Papal permission to continue living as a man.

Catalina Lebrés
Catharin Rosenbrock of Hamburg

18th century German woman who cross-dressed to serve in the military.

Catherina Margaretha Linck & Catharina Margaretha Mühlhahn

18th century German women who married while Linck was passing as a man, though she did not do so consistently.

Catherine Louise Vignot

18th century French woman who cross-dressed to serve in the military.

Catherine Talbot and Elizabeth Carter

18th century English passionate friends who wrote about trying to arrange to spend their lives together.

Cecilia Venetiana

16th century Roman courtesan described by Firenzuola as loving women “lasciviously.”

Charles Baudelaire

19th century French author whose poetry included themes of decadent lesbian sexuality.

Charley Parkhurst

19th century American woman who cross-dressed to work as a stagecoach driver.

Charlotte Charke

18th century English actress who specilized in “breeches roles” and cross-dressed regularly in ordinary life as well. She had at least one long-term relationship with a woman that is strongly implied to be sexual. Charke occasionally lived as a man for limited periods, raising the possibility of a transgender identity.

Charlotte Cushman

19th century American actress who enjoyed several passionate friendhips with women.

Cheat upon Cheat

An English ballad (1683) involving marriage to a cross-dressed woman.

Chevalière d'Eon

A 17th century French person who lived variously as a man and as a woman at different times. D’Eon was, by some, believed to be properly assigned as female, and so returning to “proper gender” after passing as a man. Post-mortem examination revealed d’Eon to be physiologically male.

Christabel (Samuel Taylor Coleridge)

19th century English supernatural poem involving a seductive female monster that targets both women and men.

Christian Davies

18th century English woman who cross-dressed to enlist in search of her husband.

Christina of Markyate

12th century English woman who cross-dressed to flee an unwanted marriage and became a nun. Her story is similar to some semi-fictional saints biographies of the early Christian era.

Christine de Pizan
Clarissa (Samuel Richardson)

18th century English novel in which two female friends are separated tragically by a jealous and controlling male suitor.

Clemens Brentano's Spring Wreath (Bettina Brentano-von Arnim)

19th century German epistolary novel that interrogates gender with several characters including a cross-dressing amazonian figure.

Cloe to Artimesa

Anonymous 18th century English poem that favorably compares love between women to heterosexual love.

Clyomon and Clamydes

16th century English play in which a gender disguised woman acknowledges the suggestion that women may desire her.

Comical News from Bloomsbury

An English ballad (1690) involving marriage to a cross-dressed woman.

Constance Fenimore Woolson

19th century American author who depicted women in eroticized relationships.

Conte du Roi Flore et de la belle Jehane

13th century Fraco-Flemish romance in which a calumniated wife cross-dresses to serve her husband as his squire.

Cornielia Gerrits van Breugel & Elisabeth Boleyn

18th century (?) Dutch couple. Cornelia and Elisabeth began a sexual relationship as women. Cornelia began living as a man in order for them to marry but then returned to living as a woman.

Countess Amalie of Bavaria

19th century German woman who wore trousers for horseback and hunting.

Cuck-Queanes and Cuckolds Errants (William Percy)

17th c English play involving predatory lesbian themes.

Dangerous Liaisons (Pierre Choderlos de Laclos)

18th century French novel that includes an older woman expressing desire for the young woman she is setting up for (heterosexual) seduction.

Darthula According to Ossian (Karoline von Günderrode)

19th century German heroic poem in which a princess cross-dresses to avenge her family.

De Bredashe Heldinne

Fictionalized biography of 18th century Dutch woman Maria van Antwerpen (q.v.).

Deborah Sampson (Robert Shurtleff)

18th century American woman who cross-dressed to serve in the army.

Decameron (Boccacio)

14th century Italian collection of tales, including one about the Zinevra, who cross-dresses to redeem her good name.

Des Hermaphrodits (Jacques Duval)

A French (1612) medical treatise that discusses cases on the lesbian/transgender intersection.

Desperate Remedies (Thomas Hardy)

19th century English novel that includes a predatory homoerotic episode between the protagonist and her employer.

Dialogue between Sappho and Ninon de l’Enclose in the Shades

18th century anonymous English poem featuring Sappho in a context of lesbian sexuality.

Dialogues of the Courtesans (Lucian)

2nd century Roman rhetorical dialogues (written in Greek) that include both lesbian and transgender subject matter.

Diana (Jorge de Montemayor)

16th century Portuguese play in which a woman in male disguise first flirts with a woman to distract her from their common love interest, but later offers love more sincerely when the other woman is dying of a broken heart.

Diana Victrix (Florence Converse)

Late 19th century American novel about  rivalry for a woman’s love that, somewhat unusually, ends with a female couple.

Diaries (Anne Lister)

19th century English woman whose coded diaries detail her romantic and sexual relations with women and a social circle in which covert lesbian relationships were frequent.

Diwan Al-Sababa (Ibn Abi Hajala)

15th century Arabic writer who makes passing reference to lesbianism.

Dorothie Hoyt
Duchess of Chevreuse

17th century French woman who cross-dressed to take a military role.

Duchess of Longueville

17th century French woman who cross-dressed to escape prison in the context of military service.

Eddas

A collection of early medieval Norse tales, including some involving a woman cross-dressing and taking a male role to avenge a father.

Edith Guerrier & Edith Brown
Edith Somerville

19th century Irish novelist who had a literary and romantic partnership with her cousin Violet Martin, writing together as “Martin Ross”.

Edmonia Lewis
Eleanor Butler & Sarah Ponsonby (The Ladies of Llangollen)

18th century Irish women who eloped together and set up house in Llangollen, Wales, where they became an iconic symbol of romantic friendship.

Eleanor of Aquitaine

12th century Queen of England said to have cross-dressed to escape her husband in disguise.

Elegy for a Lady enamoured of another Lady (poem) (Pontus de Tyard)

16th century French poem by a male author but written from the viewpoint of a woman who is confused and upset by having fallen in love with another woman.

Elena/Eleno de Céspedes

16th century Spanish person, assigned female, who began living as a man at ca. 18 years of age and at one point received a court ruling of male status, allowing Eleno to marry a woman. This was later reversed with ensuing complications.

Eleonore Prochaska

18th century German woman who cross-dressed to serve in the military.

Elisabeth Wijngraaff

18th (?) century Dutch woman who began a sexual relationship in prison with a fellow female priosoner and unsuccessfully claimed transgender identity in order to marry her.

Eliza Mary Hamilton

19th century English poet whose work expresses admiration between women with erotic overtones.

Elizabeth Emmons

19th c American woman who passed as a man for economic purposes.

Elizabeth Etchingham & Anne Oxenbridge
Elizabeth Johnson
Elizabeth Stuart Phelps

19th century American author whose work depicted women challenging traditional roles. A poem expressing her beliefs about the afterlife is presented in the voice of a woman mourning a female friend with the implication they had been lovers.

Ellen Craft

19th century American woman who escaped slavery with her husband by disguising herself as a white man.

Ellen Stephens

19th century American woman who cross-dressed to pursue an absent husband.

Ellen Tremayne/Edward De Lacy Evans

19th century Irish immigrant to Australia, assigned female, who lived as a man in Australia, including marrying three women.

Elsa Jane Guerin (Mountain Charley)

19th century American woman who cross-dressed to work as a sailor.

Emily Dickinson

19th century American poet whose letters and poetry reveal a passionate friendship with the woman who became her sister-in-law.

Emily Greene Balch
Emma Cole

18th century American woman who cross-dressed to work as a sailor.

Emma Stebbins
Empress Elisabeth I of Russia

18th century Empress of Russian who held cross-dressed masques.

Epigram on the Court Pucelle (Ben Jonson)

17th century English poem that visciously satirizes a female intellectual at court as  a “tribade”.

Epigrams (Martial)

1st century Roman poet whose satirical epigrams include three describing women who have sex with women.

Erotopolis: The Present State of Betty-Land (Charles Cotton?)

17th century English boarding school novel with innuendo about the erotic possibilities in single-sex environments.

Esperanza de Rojas
Euphemia (Charlotte Lennox)

18th century English novel that satirizes passionate friendship using the stock figures of a “mannish” Amazon and a bluestocking.

Faerie Queen (Edmund Spenser)

16th century English epic poem that includes a cross-dressing female knight (Britomart) who attracts a woman’s desire that outlasts the revelation.

Félicité and Théophile Fernigh

18th century French women who openly cross-dressed to serve in the French National Guard.

Fettered for Life (Lillie Devereux Blake)

19th century American feminist novel that includes a cross-dressing woman and committed female friendships, though there is a heteronormative resolution.

Fiesco's Conspiracy at Genoa (Friedrich Schiller)

18th century German novel that includes themes of cross-dressing and gender.

Flora Tristan

19th century French political activist who cross-dressed as a Turkish man to access the English parliament.

Florentin (Dorothea Schlegel)

19th century German novel that includes themes of cross-dressing and gender.

Floris et Lyriope (Robert de Blois)

13th century French romance in which a man cross-dresses as a woman to seduce a woman. The work depicts her coming to terms with same-sex desire.

Francoise de l’Estage and Catherine de la Maniére

16th century French women who were tried for [sexually] “corrupting each other.”

Francoise Després

18th century French woman who cross-dressed to serve in the military.

Franz Sternbald's Migrations (Ludwig Tieck)

19th century German novel with cross-dressing themes.

Frene (Galeran de Bretagne)

The 13th century French romance “Galeran de Bretagne” includes the story of “Frene”, also found in the lais of Marie de France, which features themes of female friendship and alliance.

Friendship between Ephelia and Ardelia (Anne Finch Countess Winchilsea)

18th century poem celebrating romantic friendship between women.

From the Life of a Good-for-Nothing (Joseph von Eichendorff)

19th century German novel with cross-dressing themes.

Gallathea (John Lyly)

16th century English play in which two women disguised as men fall in love with each other, believing the other to be an actual man. Their desire for each other outlasts the revelation and the play concludes with a plan to marry if Venus will randomly transform one or the other into a man.

George Elliot

19th century English author (aka Mary Ann Evans) who was the object of a woman’s passionate friendship.

Gertrude Stein

20th century American expatriot in Paris whose poetry often alludes to her romantic and sexual partnership with Alice B. Toklas.

Gl’Ingannati

16th century Italian play in which a cross-dressed woman attracts the desire of the woman to whom she is a go-between. Most likely the inspiration for Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night."

Goblin Market (Christina Rossetti)

19th century English poem that depicts a close emotionally supportive relationship between two women (identified as sisters) that includes erotically suggestive language.

Godwi (Clemens Brentano)

19th century German novel with cross-dressing themes.

Goethe's Correspondence with a Child (Bettina Brentano-von Arnim)

19th century German novel with cross-dressing and gender-bending themes.

Greta von Mösskirch

16th century German woman who was investigated for loving women and pursuing them “as if she were a man.”

Guy de Maupassant

19th century French writer who used themes of decadent lesbian sexuality.

Gynaikeion (Thomas Heywood)

This1624 English medical text recounts a story of a 2nd century Athenian woman who cross-dresses to become a surgeon.

Hannah Cullwick

19th century English woman who dressed across gender and class boundaries for political performance art.

Hannah Snell

18th century English woman who cross-dressed to serve in the army. After discovery she became something of a celebrity icon.

Hannah Wright and Anne Gaskill

18th century English women recorded as a couple in a marriage register.

Harriet Hosmer
Helkiah Crooke

17th century English medical writer who discussed the function of the clitoris and its relation to lesbianism.

Hendrik van de Berg

Woman in 1660s Netherlands who joined the army in male disguise at the urging of another woman who did so.

Henri Estienne

16th century French writer who recorded the trial an execution of an (unnamed) assigned-female person who was discovered living as a man, married to a woman.

Henrietta (Charlotte Lennox)

An English novel (1758) involving passionate friendship with a significant class difference.

Henrikje Verschuur

18th century Dutch woman, impatient with female social roles who cross-dresses, enlists in the army, and enjoys sexual relations with various women who are aware of the disguise.

Hervarar saga ok Heidhreks

Early medieval Norse saga concerning a woman who cross-dresses and takes on a male role to avenge her father.

Hester Thrale

18th century English socialite and diarist who commented (usually negatively) on women and men she believed to be homosexual.

Het Land in Brieven (Elisabeth Post)

18th century Dutch novel depicting two women in a marriage-like relationship.

Hic Mulier

Anonymous English polemic tract (1620) against women wearing masculine attire and accessories.

Hildegard of Bingen

11th century German abbess who had a passionate and possessive friendship with a female protegee. She was a prominent author and composer.

Hildegard of Swabia

8th century Frankish woman, wife of Charlemagne, said to have cross-dressed as a man for an extended period to escape a false accusation.

Hind
Histories (Saxo Grammaticus)

Early medieval germanic legendary histories that include several stories of women cross-dressing to temporarily take a male role.

Hrólfs saga Gautrekssonar

Early medieval Norse saga concerning a woman who cross-dresses and takes on a male role to avenge her father.

Hungerheart: The Story of a Soul (Christabel Gertrude Marshall (aka Christopher Marie St John))

Early 20th century English novel. A semi-autobiographical novel of the author’s relationship with a woman and involvement in the suffrage movement.

Hymen’s Triumph (Samuel Daniel)

17th century English play in which a cross-dressed woman attracts a woman’s desire.

Il Pastor Fido (Giovanni Battista Guarini (original Italian version) Richard Fanshawe (English version))

Il Pastor Fido (The faithful shepherd) appeared in many adaptations of the 1590 Italian original by Guarini, including a 1647 English translation by Fanshawe and another 17th century English adaptation by Dymock. In the context of a kissing game among (female) nymphs, the shepher Mirtillo disguises himself as a woman  to gain access to the woman he desires.

Il Pastor Fido: or The Faithful Shepherd (John Dymock)

Il Pastor Fido (The faithful shepherd) appeared in many adaptations of the 1590 Italian original by Guarini, including a 1647 English translation by Fanshawe and another 17th century English adaptation by Dymock. In the context of a kissing game among (female) nymphs, the shepher Mirtillo disguises himself as a woman  to gain access to the woman he desires.

Ilsabe Bunkens

17th century German woman who passed as a man and twice married a woman.

Inés de Santa Cruz & Catalina Ledesma
Iphis (Henry Bellamy)

17th century English play based on Ovid’s story of Iphis and Ianthe, q.v.

Iphis et Iante (Benserade)

17th century French play based on Ovid’s story of Iphis and Ianthe, q.v.

Isabella de Luna

A 17th century(?) Spanish courtesan in Rome, mentioned by Brantôme as maintaining a female mistress.

Isabella Geelvinck

17th century German woman who worked cross-dressed as a military cook.

Isabella of Egypt (Achim von Arnim)

19th century German novel with cross-dressing themes.

Isabelle Gunn

18th century Scottish woman who cross-dressed for a career as a sailor.

James IV (Robert Greene)

16th century English play in which a cross-dressing female knight is wounded and the woman who nurses her falls in love with her with flirtatious encouragement.

James Miranda Barry

19th century Irish person, assigned female, (Margaret Ann Bulkley) who lived as a man to study medicine and continued as such until death.

Jane Pirie & Marianne Woods

19th century Scottish schoolmistresses who had a passionate friendship that resulted in a famous libel trial when they were accused of lesbianism. The episode was fictionalized in the Lillian Hellman play The Children’s Hour.

Jane Sharp

The author of The Midwives Book (England, 1671), which included discussions of the function of the clitoris and its supposed association with lesbian desire.

Jean-Baptiste Tavernier

A French traveler in Turkey (1587) who wrote on lesbian practices in the harem.

Jeanne Bonnet

19th century American woman who cross-dressed (possibly overtly?) and living in a committed relationshp with a woman whom she’d persuaded to leave prostitution.

Jeanne d’Arc

15th century French woman who cross-dressed openly for the purpose of taking a military leadership role. Her trial testimony indicates she may have had a non-binary identity.

Jehanne and Laurence

15th century French women who engaged in an extended sexual relationship that ended an a case of assault.

Joan Isham & Margery Nicoll
Joanna Traill (Annie E. Holdsworth)

Late 19th century novel by an Anglo-Jamaican writer that features a close friendship between a “fallen woman” and her redeemer.

John Chivy

18th century English person living as a man, discovered after death to have female anatomy. John was married to a woman for 20 years.

John Ferren and Deborah Nolan

18th century English married couple. After the marriage, John was discovered to be a woman.

John Mountford and Mary Cooper

18th century English couple who were refused marriage because the  clergyman suspected “John” was a woman.

John Smith and Elizabeth Huthall

18th century English couple who married despite the clergyman suspecting that “John” was a woman.

Journal of Montaigne’s Travels in Italy by Way of Switzerland and Germany (Michel de Montaigne)

Travel journal describing a 16th century incident in Switzerland where a group of women together started living as men. One married a woman.

Journey Through Every Stage of Life (Sarah Scott)

18th century English novel concerning the adventures of two women with a close emotional bond, though there is a heterosexual resolution at the end.

Juana de la Cruz

15th century Spanish woman who cross-dressed to flee an unwanted marriage and became a nun. Her story is similar to some semi-fictional saints biographies of the early Christian era.

Juana Inés de la Cruz

17th century Spanish poet who uses the language and imagery of romantic love and desire in poems addressed to her patroness.

Julie d’Aubigny (Mademoiselle de Maupin)

18th century French opera singer and swordswoman who had multiple female lovers. She was fictionalized by Théophile Gautier under her stage name Mademoiselle de Maupin.

Julie ou la Nouvelle Heloise (Jean-Jacques Rousseau)

18th century French novel revolving around the close bond between two female friends, though that bond is subordinated to their marriages.

Juliette (Marquis de Sade)

18th century French pornographic novel involving sadistic lesbian activity.

Juvenal

1st century Roman satirist. One of his works has a description of women performing mutual oral sex, but only in order to claim Roman women wouldn’t do such a thing.

Kanz Al-Umal (Al-Mutqee Al-Hindi)

16th century writer in Arabic who discusses the Islamic legal context of homosexuality.

Katharina Güldin

15th century German woman tried for having a sexual relationship with a woman.

Katharine Lee Bates & Katharine Coman
Katherina Hetzeldorfer

German 15th century person assigned-female who lived as a man, including traveling with a women identified as wife. Trial records for various gender-transgression and sexual assault issues include details of sexual activity.

Katherine Philips

17th century English poet whose work expresses deep emotional attachments between women that could reasonably be classified as erotic, though not overtly sexual.

Kavanagh The Love of Parson Lord (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

19th century American novel that includes a close female friendship that is broken off by the transfer of one woman’s affections to a man.

Knighton’s Chronicle
Krakow university student

15th century Polish woman who passed as a man in order to study at Krakow University.

La Celestina (Fernando de Rojas)

15th century Spanish  novel in dialogue in which an older woman sexually arouses a young one as an intermediary for a man’s seduction. This work also partakes of the “sexual education” motif.

La Cintia (Giambattista della Porta)

16th century Italian play involving multiple homoerotic scenarios, both where a cross-dressed woman courts a woman, and where a man cross-dressed as a woman courts a woman.

la Maréchale

18th century French woman accused or arranging for a woman to be released from prison in exchange for a sexual relationship.

La Monja Alférez (Juan A. Mateo)
La Monja Alférez (Juan Pérez de Montalbán)
La Prisonniere (Edouard Bourdet)

Early 20th century French play involving a woman trapped in an obsessive lesbian relationship.

La Religieuse (Denis Diderot)

18th century French novel involving predatory sexual relations in a convent.

Labyrinthus (Walter Hawkesworth)

17th century English play adapted from La Cintia, a 16th century Italian play involving multiple homoerotic scenarios, both where a cross-dressed woman courts a woman, and where a man cross-dressed as a woman courts a woman.

Lady Mary Montague

18th century English woman who wrote about same-sex relations within Turkish harems while accompanying her husband, the ambassador to the Ottoman court. She also engaged in passionate romantic correspondence with women.

Laelia

16th century English play that may be a direct source for Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night”, in which a woman disguises herself as a man to distract the affections of her (male) lover’s new love interest.

Landgartha (Henry Burnell)

17th century English play in which men taunt women for sharing a bed with the implication of sexual activity.

Laudomia Forteguerri

16th century Italian intellectual who composed romantic praise poems to Duchess Margaret of Parma. The passionate friendship between the two women was remarked on positively by their contemporaries.

Le Bal d’Auteuil (Nicolas Boindin)

18th century French play with same-sex romance involving a cross-dressed woman.

Lélia (George Sand)

19th century French novel that includes themes of love between women.

Leo Africanus

Berber-Andalusian writer (c. 1494 – c. 1554?) whose descriptive work on North African cultures includes a description of female fortune-tellers in Fez who seduce women.

Leonor López de Córdoba

14-15th c Spanish favorite of Queen Catalina of Castile, with whom she had a stormy and jealous (but not overtly romantic) relationship.

Les Fleurs du Mal (Les Lesbiennes) (Charles Baudelaire)

19th century French collection of poetry originally titled “Les Lesbiennes”, dealing with images of decadent lesbian sexuality.

Les Guérillères (Monique Wittig)

20th century French novel depicting a lesbian society.

Lesbia Brandon (Algernon Charles Swinburne)
Lettres de Milady Juliette Catesby a Milady Henriette Campley son amie (Jeanne Riccoboni)

French novel (1759) about a passionate female friendship.

Lila and Colette (Catulle Mendès)

19th century French novel depicting classical Greek lesbianism.

Little Dorritt (Charles Dickens)

19th century English novel that includes a “mannish” character (Miss Wade) who, it is implied, may be a lesbian.

Lives of Gallant Ladies (Pierre de Bourdeille seigneur de Brantôme)

16th century French work on memorable women that includes rumors and anecdotes about purported lesbians, both historic and contemporary.

Livre des Manières (Étienne de Fougères)

12th century French poem cataloging various social classes that contains an unusual section describing women who have sex with women in various metaphoric images.

Llangollen Vale (Anna Seward)

18th century English poetic collection depicting romantic friendship between women.

Loreta Janeta Velazquez

19th century Cuban woman who cross-dressed to accompany her male lover in the miliary.

Louise Imogen Guiney & Alice Brown
Love and Friendship: A Pastoral (Elizabeth Singer Rowe)

17th century English poem celebrating romantic friendship that equates it with heterosexual love.

Love and Honor (William Davenant)

17th century English play in which one women sacrifices herself to save a close female friend.

Love’s Adventures (Margaret Cavendish)

17th century English play by Margaret Cavendish (q.v.) in which a woman disguised as a boy attracts the erotic attention of both women and men.

Love’s Changelinges Change

17th century English play derived from Sidney’s “Arcadia” in which a woman contemplates same-sex love when courted by a man in disguise.

Love’s Pilgrimage (John Fletcher)

17th century English play in which a woman desires a cross-dressed woman she believes to be a boy.

Love’s Riddle (Abraham Cowley)

17th century English play in which a cross-dressed woman attracts the desire of two shepherdesses, which continues after she is revealed.

Lucinde (Friedrich Schlegel)

18th century German novel with themes of androgyny.

Lucy Ann Lobdell

19th century American frontier woman who cross-dressed for practical and preference but with no intention of passing.

Lucy Brewer

19th century American woman who cross-dressed to escape prostitution via a career as a sailor.

Ludovico Sinistrari

Italian author of a medical treatise (1700) that discusses lesbian sex.

Luisa Sigea
L’Astrée (Honoré d'Urfé)

17th century French novel in which a man cross-dresses as a woman to seduce a woman. One of the sources for Sidney's Arcadia.

L’Escoufle

13th century French romance whose heroine is supported by several close friendships with other female characters that include erotic components.

L’Espion Anglois (Mathieu François Mairobert)

18th century Fench  novel that forms a prototype for male-gaze lesbian pornography.

L’Estroire de Merlin
Madame de Murat & Madame de Nantiat

17th century France. Extensive court documents describe the violent and jealous sexual relationship these women enjoyed.

Madame Montpensier

17th century French woman who cross-dressed to take a military role.

Madame Poncet

18th century French woman who cross-dressed to serve in the army.

Madeleine Moore

19th century American woman who cross-dressed to accompany her male lover in the military, unrecognized by him.

Mademoiselle de Maupin (Théophile Gautier )

19th century French novel very loosely inspired by the life of Julie d’Aubigny (q.v.), depicting the title character as bisexual and possibly non-binary.

Mademoiselle Giraud My Wife (Adolphe Belot)

19th century French novel from the point of view of a man who is naively oblivious to his wife’s lesbian relationship.

Magnus saga jarls

14th century Icelandic saga that includes an episode where a woman cross-dresses to trick her husband.

Maitland Quarto Manuscript

16th century Scottish manuscript that includes an anonymous poem in the voice of a woman who has fallen in love with another woman and desires to change sex in order to marry her.

Margaret Cavendish

17th century English philosopher and Duchess of Newcastle whose works include themes of female homoeroticism and women-only societies.

Margaret Duchess of Austria/Parma

16th century daughter of the Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor, whose passionate friendship with the writer Laudomia Forteguerri was remarked on by contemporaries. Laudomia wrote her romantic poetry.

Margaret Fuller
Margarita Valenzuela & Gregoria Franco
Maria Anna Steinhaus
María de Zayas
Maria van Antwerpen/Jan van Ant

18th century German woman who cross-dressed to serve in the military in the Netherlands.

Marie Antoinette

18th century Queen of France who was rumored to engage in lesbian relationships among her court, though political animosity was a major aspect of the rumors.

Marie Corelli

19th century English novelist who enjoyed a long-term romantic partnership with Bertha Vyver.

Maritgen Jans/David Jans

17th c Dutch woman who tried unsuccessfully to enlist in male disguise, but kept the disguise to earn higher wages.

Mary Ambree

16th century English broadside ballad about a woman who cross-dresses for military action.

Mary Anne Arnold

19th century English woman who cross-dressed to work as a sailor for economic resons.

Mary Anne Talbot

18th century English woman, forced to accompany her husband in the military in disguise as a man.

Mary Astell

18th c English writer on topics that include feminism and marriage resistance.

Mary Barber of Suffolk and Ann Chitting

16th century(?) English women whose close relationship was commemorated by Barber’s son who buried Chitting alongside Barber, given equal place with her husband.

Mary East (Mr. How)

18th century English woman who lived as a man for most of her life, married to a woman. As they testified that they drew lots for who would “be the man” this does not appear to be a transgender case.

Mary Frith aka Moll Cutpurse

17th century English woman who openly wore male garments and was reputed to have both female and male lovers.

Mary Hamilton
Mary Matilda Betham

18th century English poet who wrote on themes of romantic love between women.

Mary Pix

18th c English playwright who treated the conflict between the heterosexual imperative and passionate female friendship.

Mary Read

18th century English woman who cross-dressed sometimes in the context of a career in piracy.

Mary Wollstonecraft

18th century English feminist and writer. Both her life and her writings included passionate female frienships.

Mary Woolley & Jeannette Marks

19th century American couple who taught at Mt. Holyoke college and whose lives saw romantic friendship shift from praiseworthy to suspect.

Matrimonial Trouble (Margaret Cavendish)

17th century English play in which a jilted woman passes as a man to try to seduce her female rival in revenge.

Medicinal Dictionary (Robert James)

18th century medical text that discusses cases of women living as men or having sexual relations with women.

Medicinal Epistles (Richard Carr)

18th Century English medical text that covers sexual issues, including the supposed relationship of the clitoris to lesbianism.

Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (John Cleland)

18th century English novel in which one woman sexually initiates another to prepare her for work as a (heterosexual) prostitute.

Memoirs of Europe (Delarivier Manley)

Fictionalized memoir (England, 1710) representing the lesbian amours of members of the authors circle.

Memoirs of the Life of Count de Grammont (Antoine Hamilton)

17th century English fictionalized biography depicting a woman in charge of young maids of honor as sexually predatory towards her charges.

Méphistophéla (Catulle Mendès)

19th century French novel with lesbian themes.

Metamorphoses: Callisto (Ovid)

1st century BCE poem in which Zeus disguises himself as a woman to seduce one of Diana’s nymphs. This story was adapted in many different forms over the centuries.

Metamorphoses: Iphis and Ianthe (Ovid)

1st century BCE Roman poem about the love between two girls, one of whom has been raised as a boy, resolved when the goddess Isis transformed Iphis into a boy. This story was reworked repeatedly in Western literature and can reasonably be considered one of the foundational lesbian/transmasculine plots.

Michael Field (Katherine Harris Bradley and Edith Cooper)

19th century English couple who published together under the pen name Michael Field. Their relationship was considered equivalent to a marriage among their friends.

Millennium Hall (Sarah Scott)

18th century English utopian novel in which women bound by close friendships create a community with charitable ideals.

Milton Matson

19th c American, assigned-female, arrested for passing as a man and being betrothed to a woman with an implied sexual relatoinship.

Monsieur d’Olive (George Chapman)

17th century English play in which the strength of female friendship is acknowledged in the figure of a woman mourning her lost friend.

Monsieur Thing’s Origin or Seignor D---o’s Adventures in Britain

18th century English pornographic poem about women using dildoes with each other.

Mora (Karoline von Günderrode)

19th century German novel with cross-dressing themes.

Much Ado About Nothing (William Shakespeare)

16th century English play that contrasts supportive female friendship with fickle heterosexual ones.

Na Maria (Bieiris de Romans)

13th century French poem, the sole surviving work of the author, that expresses romantic love between women in the conventions of Courtly Love.

Nana (Émile Zola)

19th century French novel depicting lesbian bar culture among prostitutes.

Nicholas de Nicholay

His “Navigations into Turkey” includes stories about lesbian activity in harems. (France, 1576)

Nihayat Al-Arb Fi Funoon al-Adab (Al-Nuwayri)

13th century legend in Arabic about how lesbianism originated.

No Wit No Help Like a Woman’s (Thomas Middleton)

17th century English play in which a woman cross-dresses and woos a woman who had cheated her to take revenge. Both m/m and f/f desire is implied and there is a derisory reference to women marrying women.

Norma Trist (John Wesley Carhart)

19th century American novel based on the real-life murder of Freda Ward by her lover Alice Mitchell.

Nossis

Greek poet of the 3rd century BCE whose work is inspired by Sappho and expresses erotic feelings for the goddess Aphrodite.

Nuzhat al-Albâb fîmâ lâ Yûjad fî Kitâb (The Diversion of the Hearts by What is Not to Be Found in Any Book) (Ahmad Ibn Yusuf al-Tîfâshî)

13th century writer in Arabic of an encyclopedic work that includes a chapter on lesbianism.

On a Lady Named Beloved (Anne de Rohan)

17th century French poem that invokes the poetry of Sappho in the context of love between women, possibly the first post-classical poem to do so.

On the Beauty of Women (Agnolo Firenzuola)

16th century Italian work that discusses love between women, both platonic and carnal.

On the Death of my Dear Friend and Play-fellow (Jane Barker)

17th century English poem that expresses romantic love between women.

On the Friendship Betwixt Two Ladies (Edmund Waller)

17th century English poem that expresses a man’s frustration that two women scorn male suitors because the love each other.

On the Soft and Gentle Motions of Eudora (attributed Anne Killigrew)

17th century English poem that expresses the author’s sensual appreciation for another woman’s beauty.

Onania or the Heinous Sin of Self-Pollution (Balthazar Bekker?)

18th century English “true confessions” style anecdote about sex between women (framed as mutual masturbation).

Onanism (Samuel Tissot)

English polemic (1766) against masturbation, categorizing lesbianism as “mutual masturbation” between women.

Orgula (Leonard Willan)

17th century English play involves a woman who cross-dresses in order to pursue the male object of her desire, but is distracted by another woman-passing-as-man character.

Orlando Furioso (Ludovico Ariosto)

16th century Italian poem that includes the motif of a woman desiring an Amazon figure who is initially perceived as male but where the desire persists after her gender is revealed.

Ormond: or the Secret Witness (Charles Brockden Brown)

18th century American novel in which the close friendship between two women prevails over husbands and suitors.

Ornatus and Artesia (Emanuel Ford)

17th century English novel in which a man disguised as a woman convinces a woman to accept same-sex desire.

Ottaviano Bey

16th century Venetian  visitor to the Ottoman Court who discusses lesbianism in Turkish harems.

Pamela (Samuel Richardson)

18th century English novel that contrast positive depictions of platonic female friendships with condemnation of same-sex desire.

Paul et Virginie (Jacques-Henri Bernardin de Saint-Pierre)

18th century French novel involving two women who, after failing in heterosexual relations, for a marriage-like bond.

Pauline de Simiane

18th century English poet whose work celebrated romantic friendship between women with an erotic undertone.

Paul’s Epistle

New Testament text generally interpreted as addressing lesbianism.

Pericles (William Shakespeare)

17th century English play with a passing incident which suggests the motif of a bawd using seduction to draw an innocent girl into prostitution.

Philaster or Love lies a Bleeding (Frances Beaumont and John Fletcher)

17th century English play in which a woman cross-dressed as a boy is the unwilling (and somewhat oblivious) object of female desire.

Phillip Camerarius

17th century German author of a treatise discussing transvestism.

Phoebe Hessel

18th century English woman who initially cross-dressed to accompany her father in the army, then entered a combat role.

Plato

Classical Greek writer whose Symposium explained love as the result of separated two-bodied humans seeking to reunite with their “other half”. This story explicitly includes same-sex love.

Plautus

2nd/3rd century BCE Roman playwright who included lesbian sexual themes.

Plutarch

1st century Greek author who describes Spartan women as participating in an equivalent of the erastes/eromenos relationship.

Poets and Their Companions (Joseph von Eichendorff)

19th century German novel with cross-dressing themes.

Pope Joan

Legend of a 9th century woman who cross-dressed to take up a (male) religious profession and eventually became pope but was discovered when she gave birth. The legend has some similarities to the “transvestite saint” genre.

Premonition and Present (Joseph von Eichendorff)

19th century German novel with cross-dressing themes.

Princess of Condé

17th century French woman who openly cross-dressed to take a military leadership role.

Qamar al-Zaman and the Princess Boudour

Story included in the Arabic epic “The 1001 Nights” involving a woman who cross-dresses as a man and is pressured into marrying a princess who accepts the marriage after her true gender is revealed.

Queen Anne of England

18th century Queen of England who had several passionate friendships with favorite female courtiers that gave rise to rumors of lesbianism.

Queen Christina of Sweden

17th century Queen of Sweden who had a passionate friendship with one of her ladies in waiting, openly cross-dressed on occasion, and after her abdication was rumored in Paris to have lesbian relationships.

Ragionamenti (Pietro Aretino)

16th century Italian sexual “dialogues” that include sexual activity between women.

Ram-Alley or Merry Trickes (Lording Barry)

17th century English play in which a woman cross-dresses to be near her (male) object of affection but as part of the disguise makes a sexual assignation with another woman.

Rare Verities (Richard Head)

An English translation (1687) of a medical text by Joannes Benedictus Sinibaldus which discussed to relationship of the clitoris to lesbian activity.

Regiment of Women (Clemence Dane)

Early 20th century English novel involving a destructive romantic relationship between teachers at a girl’s school.

Remembrance of Things Past (Marcel Proust)

19th century French novel that includes a passing reference to the author’s frustrated desire for a woman implied to be lesbian.

Renée Bordereau

18th century French woman who cross-dressed to serve in the military.

Richardis of Stade

12th c German abbess with whom Hildegard of Bingen had a passionate and jealous friendship.

Robin Hood

A medieval English folk-hero whose stories sometimes include cross-dressing themes.

Rodrigo de Castro

16th century Spanish writer who discusses the function of the clitoris and its relation to lesbianism.

Roman de la Rose (Guillaume de Lorris / Jean de Meun)

Medieval French romance that includes a description  and depiction of two women dancing and kissing.

Roman de la Rose ou de Guillaume de Dole (Jean Renart)

Medieval French romance discussed in the context of themes of female friendship and alliance.

Roman de Silence (Heldris de Cornuälle)

13th century French romance featuring a cross-dressing female knight. The story directly addresses issues of gender identity as innate versus performative. In one episode, she is the object of a queen’s adulterous desire.

Rosa Bonheur

19th century French artist who had a romantic partnership with Nathalie Micas.

Rosalie von Bonin

18th century German woman who cross-dressed to serve in the military.

Rosalind and Helen (Percy Bysshe Shelley)

19th century English poem that celebrates a romantic friendship between two women.

Rosalynde (Thomas Lodge)

16th century English play that features a committed female couple.

Roxana (Daniel Defoe)

English novel (1724) involving a passionate friendship between women.

Rughum and Najda

9th century Arabic story of the tragic love affair of two women.

Ruth & Naomi (Bible)

Biblical story in which a woman expresses love and devotion to her mother-in-law.Although not framed as romantic, the text has been viewed as Biblical support for intense emotional bonds between women.

Saint Anastasia

5th century Byzantine/Egyptian saint said to have cross-dressed to join her husband in a monastery.

Saint Athanasia of Antiochia

9th century Syrian saint who cross-dressed to live as a holy hermit.

Saint Eugenia

3rd century Roman saint said to have cross-dressed to become a monk and later abbot. Her disguise was uncovered when a woman accused Eugenia of fathering her child.

Saint Euphrosyne

5th century Egyptian saint who cross-dressed to enter a monastic life under the name Smaragdus.

Saint Hildegund von Schönau

12th century German woman. As a child, she was dressed as a boy for safety when accompanying her father on pilgrimage and later retained the disguise to become a monk. Her story parallels those of the more fictional “transvestite saints” of the early Christian era.

Saint Margaretha

Mentioned as a cross-dressing saint, but I haven’t found further details. This is not the most famous Saint Margaret (of Antioch). Possibly the same as Saint Pelagius.

Saint Marina

Egyptian saint (no date give, almost certainly entirely fictional) who was raised as a boy in order to accompany her father when he entered a monastery. She became a monk in turn. When accused of fathering a woman’s child, she left the monastery to help raise the child.

Saint Pelagius

4/5th century Egyptian saint (probably apocryphal). Her story begins as Margaret, a courtesan who, after she converted and was renamed Pelagia, cross-dressed under the name Pelagius to become an ascetic monk.

Saint Radegund

6th c French saint whose biography includes symbolic homoerotic imagery in her veneration.

Saint Thecla

Roman woman converted by Saint Paul to whom he gave the authority to preach after she baptizes herself and puts on male clothing.

Saint Theodora

4/5th century Egyptial legend of a woman who (among other adventures) cross-dressed to enter a monastery and was exiled when accused of fathering a child, whom she then raised. (There is also a legend of a 4th century Egyptian Saint Theodora who briefly exchanged clothes with a man to escape prostitution. These may be versions of the same legend.)

Salwat Al-Ahzan lil Ijtinab ‘an Mujalasat al-Ahdath wal Niswan (al-Mashtoolee)

18th century writer in Arabic who discusses the Islamic legal context of homosexuality.

Sappho

6th century BCE Greek poet whose work implies erotic relations with women and whose name and home island of Lesbos have become standard references to love between women.

Sappho to Philaenis (John Donne)

16th century English poem in the voice of Sappho with a positive take on her homoerotic desires.

Sara Norman & Mary Hammon

17th century American women who were prosecuted for “lewd behavior each with other upon a bed.”

Sarah Churchill Duchess of Marlborough

18th century English woman whose passionate friendship with Queen Anne gave rise to rumors of lesbianism.

Sarah Emma Edmonds

19th century American woman who cross-dressed for military service.

Sarah Fielding

18th century English woman who belonged to a circle of intellectual women suspected of lesbianism.

Sarah Ketson (John) and Ann Hutchinson

18th century English women who unsuccessfully tried to marry, with Ketson passing as a man named John.

Sarah Orne Jewett & Annie Fields

19th century American women who lived in a “Boston marriage”.

Sarah Paul (Samuel Bundy)

18th century English woman who passed as a man for economic reasons and married a woman who was aware of the disguise and who, after some legal quarrels, chose to continue living with her after public discovery.

Sarah Prince & Esther Edwards Burr
Satan’s Harvest Home

18th century English polemic tract that includes descriptions of lesbian activity, both in England and in Turkish harems.

Satiro-Mastix (Thomas Dekker)

17th century English play that includes discussion of erotic activity between women.

Satyra Sotadica (Johannes Meursius)

Fictitious original source for the French L’Academie des Dames (attr. Nicolas Chorier). The Satyra Sotadica was, in turn, alleged to be a translation of an original Spanish work by a woman (Luisa Sigea de Velasco). I’ve listed this title separately as some works cite it rather than Chorier’s work (q.v.).

Scenes of Sapphic Love (Paul Verlaine)

19th century French poem cycle depicting sex between women.

Schinderhannes (wife of)

18th century German woman who participated in her husband’s bandit gang cross-dressed as a man.

Sharif al-Idrisi

12th c Arabic author who describes an inherent lesbian orientation in some women.

Shirley (Charlotte Brontë)

19th century English novel that deals with themes of close female friendship in conflict with heterosexual relations.

Sidonia Hedwig Zäunemann

18th century German poet who cross-dressed for safety while traveling.

Sodom or the Quintessence of Debauchery (John Wilmot)

17th century English play involving sex play between women.

Songs of Bilitis (Pierre Louÿs)

19th century French poetry cycle from the voice of a fictitious member of Sappho’s circle. The sexual relations depicted fall in the “decadent” movement.

Susan Dimock & Bessie Greene
Tegernsee ms

12th century German manuscript that includes a love poem addressed by one nun to another that includes descriptions of erotic activity.

The Academy of Women (L'Academie des dames) (Nicolas Chorier)

17th century French pornographic novel presenting one woman’s sexual initiation by another and including sex between women as part of a wide variety of sexual encounters. Purported to be a translation of a Latin work Satyra Sotadica but this has been demonstrated to be fictitious. Chorier’s authorship is attributed but uncertain.

The Adulteress

18th century anonymous English satirical poem about sex between women, notable for the unambiguous use of “Tommy” as slang for a lesbian.

The Amorous Warre (Jasper Mayne)

17th century English play in which men taunt women for shared a bed with the implication of sexual activity.

The Anatomie of Abuses (Philip Stubbes)

16th century English polemic against various customs, specifically including women wearing masculine garments.

The Antipodes (Richard Brome)

17th century English play that includes reference to women satisfying each other sexually if men are not available.

The Antiquary (Shackerley Marmion)

17th century English play in which an older woman desires a woman passing as a boy.

The Arcadia (James Shirley)

17th century English play based on Sidney’s poem of the same name in which a man cross-dresses as an Amazon to pursue the woman he desires, with the added complication that both her parents also desire the “Amazon”, each believing the other to unknowingly pursue a same-sex desire.

The Bird in a Cage (James Shirley)

17th century English play involving one woman’s non-consensual erotic attentions to another.

The Bondman (Philip Massinger)

17th century English play that includes reference to women satisfying each other sexually if men are not available.

The Book of Hind

9th century Arabic story of a woman credited as being the “first lesbian”.

The Bostonians (Henry James)

19th century American novel depicting the conflict between passionate female friendship and heteronormativity.

The British Recluse (Eliza Haywood)

English novel (1722) on themes of passionate friendship between women.

The Changeling (Thomas Middleton)

17th century English play involving a woman’s erotic overtures to another in service of a man’s goals.

The City Jilt (Eliza Haywood)

18th c English novel by an author who often focused on themes of female passionate friendship and erotic attraction.

The Comical Hash (Margaret Cavendish)

17th century English play that satirizes men’s anxiety about sex between women.

The Convent of Pleasure (Margaret Cavendish)

17th century English play by Margaret Cavendish (q.v.) involving a man disguising himself as a woman to enter a woman-only community and convincing the object of his desire to accept apparent same-sex desire.

The Cry (Sarah Fielding & Jane Collier)

18th c English novel with themes of passionate friendship between women.

The Deserving Favorite (Lodowick Carlell)

17th century English play with a complex romantic polygon that includes an emotional bond between two women that is equated with marriage.

The Doubtful Heir (James Shirley)

17th century English play in which a woman courts a woman cross-dressing as a boy in order to make a man jealous. Despite the same-sex courtship, it is not driven by desire.

The Dove’s Neck-Ring about Love and Lovers (Ibn Hazm)

A 10th c Spanish-Arabic text on love that has one passing reference to lesbianism.

The Fair Moralist (Charlotte MacCarthy)

English novel (1745) involving passionate friendship with marked class difference.

The False Count (Aphra Behn)

17th century English play in which a male character acknowledges erotic possibilities between women.

The Family Schroffenstein (Heinrich von Kleist)

19th century German novel with cross-dressing themes.

The Female Cabin Boy

18th century English broadside ballad about a woman who cross-dresses to become a sailor. Also the name of an entire genre of works with this theme.

The Female Highway Hector

17th century English poem about a cross-dressing female outlaw.

The Female Husband (Henry Fielding)

18th century fictionalized biography of the real-life Mary Hamilton. In the fiction, Hamilton was  seduced by a woman but after being abandoned by her, began living as a man and had several sexual relationships with women, including marriage in some cases.

The Female Rebellion (H. B.)

17th century English play with Amazon themes in which a platonic bond is implied to be sexual to deceive others.

The Game at Flats: A Song (Nicholas Rowe)

18th century English satirical song about sex between women. It may be the earliest clear documentation of the slang term “game of flats”.

The Girl with the Golden Eyes (La fille aux yeux d’or) (Honoré de Balzac)

19th century French novel in which a man and his half-sister are rivals for the same woman’s love.

The Golden Age (Thomas Heywood)

17th century English play involving a retelling of Ovid’s myth of Callisto, where Zeus disguises himself as a woman to seduce one of Diana’s nymphs.

The Governess (Sarah Fielding)

An English novel (1749) about how class differences turn a passionate friendship into sadistic exploitation.

The Günderode (Bettina Brentano-von Arnim)

19th century German novel with themes of gender nonconformity.

The Haunting of Hill House (Shirley Jackson)

Mid-20th century American novel that mixes themes of the supernatural and lesbian obsession.

The History of Jemmy and Jenny Jessamy (Eliza Haywood)

18th c English novel by an author who often focused on themes of female passionate friendship and erotic attraction.

The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless (Eliza Haywood)

18th c English novel by an author who often focused on themes of female passionate friendship and erotic attraction.

The History of Rasselas (Samuel Johnson)

18th century English play depicting a devoted friendship between a woman and her maidservant.

The History of Sir Charles Grandison (Samuel Richardson)

18th century English novel with a “mannish” character implied to be a lesbian.

The Hollander (Henry Glapthorne)

17th century English play that includes reference to women satisfying each other sexually if men are not available.

The Isle of Guls (John Day)

17th century English play based on Sidney’s poem of the same name in which a man cross-dresses as an Amazon to pursue the woman he desires, with the added complication that both her parents also desire the “Amazon”, each believing the other to unknowingly pursue a same-sex desire.

The Lesbian Hell (Aleister Crowley)

A 19th century  English poem in the “lesbian decadence” tradition.

The Lover’s Melancholy (John Ford)

17th century English play where a woman disguised as a man is unwillingly wooed by two women, one of whom still desires her after the truth is revealed.

The Loyal Subject (John Fletcher)

17th century English play in which a brother and sister both desire a man cross-dressing as a woman.

The Memoirs of Sophia Baddeley (Elizabeth Steele)

English novel (1787) involving a passionate friendship between women.

The Merchant of Venice (William Shakespeare)

16th century English play with a woman who cross-dresses for a male occupation.

The Mysteries of Conjugal Love Reveal’d (Nicholas Venette)

An English translation (1707) of Nicholas Venette’s sexual manual. It discusses “unnatural” sexual practices, including lesbianism, as well as discussing types of “hermaphrodites”.

The New Atalantis (Mary Delarivier Manley)

18th century English novel with a satirical/eutopian depiction of an all-female society, including romantic/erotic relationships.

The Passionate Lovers (Lodowick Carlell)

17th century English play involving gender disguise but where a woman declares her love for the disguised woman after her true sex is revealed.

The Picture (Philip Massinger)

17th century English play that depicts a woman kissing another as an expression of jealous desire.

The Pilgrim (John Fletcher)

17th century English play involving the unrequired love of a maid for her mistress, which love is equated to that of marriage.

The Rash Resolve (Eliza Haywood)

18th c English novel by an author who often focused on themes of female passionate friendship and erotic attraction.

The Rebel of the Family (Eliza Lynn Linton)

19th century English novel involving conflict between committed female friendship and heteronormativity.

The Reform'd Coquet (Mary Davys)

18th century English novel involving apparent same-sex desire between women except that one is a man in disguise.

The Reputation of Mademoiselle Claude (Dorothy Blomfield)

19th century English story in which a woman’s devoted friendship is valorized but has tragic consequences.

The Revenger’s Tragedy (Thomas Middleton)

17th century English play involving a woman’s erotic overtures to another in service of a man’s goals.

The Rivall Friends (Peter Hausted)

17th century English play in which an older woman desires a woman cross-dressing as a boy.

The Roaring Girl (Thomas Dekker and Thomas Middleton)

17th century English play fictionalizing the life of a historic cross-dressing woman.

The Sappho-an

18th century anonymous English satirical poem discussing Sappho and the origin of lesbianism.

The Scornful Damsels Overthrow

An English ballad (1685) involving marriage to a cross-dressed woman.

The Sea Voyage (Philip Massinger and John Fletcher)

17th century English play that includes reference to women satisfying each other sexually if men are not available.

The She-Wedding: or a Mad Marriage at Deptford

17th century English pamphlet relating a marriage (involving gender disguise) between two women to cover for a pregnancy.

The Siege of Rhodes (William Davenant)

17th century English play in which female homoerotic desire is Orientalized as well as framed as predatory.

The Sisters (James Shirley)

17th century English play recapitulating Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” in which a woman rejects her male suitors to pursue a woman cross-dressing as a man.

The Spanish Bawd (Celestina) (James Mabbe)

17th century English play (based on a Spanish original) in which a woman recruits another for prostitution by flattery, flirtation, and sexual initiation.

The Spanish Gipsie (Thomas Middleton and William Rowley)

17th century English play in which a woman cross-dressing as a man accepts the possibility that women will desire her.

The Stone Wall (Mary Casal)
The Tea-Table (Eliza Haywood)

18th century English novel that portrays devoted female friendships with implications of committed partnership.

The Three Ladies of London (Robert Wilson)

16th century English play in which a bawd attempts to corrupt a woman sexually to recruit her for prostitution.

The Toast (William King)

18th century English satirical poem depicting a oersonal enemy as part of a network of lesbians.

The Tragedy of Chris (Rosa Mulholland)

20th century English novel involving the committed friendship between two women with a “fallen woman”-protector theme.

The Travels and Adventures of Mademoiselle de Richelieu (Erskine)

18th century English picaresque novel involving two women both traveling in male disguise who regularly joke about marrying each other and end living together as women.

The Troublesome and Hard Adventures in Love (Robert Codrington)

17th century English story in which two heterosexual lovers are disguised as country maids but perceived as engaging in same-sex affection.

The True History and Adventures of Catharine Vizzani / Breve storia della vita di Catterina Vizzani (Giovanni Battista Bianchi)

18th century Italian woman who passed as a man to enjoy romantic and sexual relations with women.

The Two Emilies (Charlotte von Stein)

19th century German novel with cross-dressing themes.

The Unaccountable Wife (Jane Barker)

18th century English novel featuring a devoted, if one-sided, friendship between a woman and her servant.

The Well of Loneliness (Radclyffe Hall)

Early 20th century English novel considered to be the first overtly lesbian novel.

The Widdow (John Middleton and Ben Jonson and John Fletcher)

17th century English play in which just about every possible combination of apparent and actual same-sex desire (of both genders) occurs, due to multi-layered gender disguises.

The Wife Judge and Accuser (La Femme juge et partie) (Antoine Jacob Montfleury)

17th century French play involving courtship between a woman and a cross-dressing woman.

The Winter’s Tale (William Shakespeare)

17th c English play with minor theme of devoted female friendship.

The Woman Warrier

English poem (1690) about a  woman who cross-dressed for the military.

Theatrum vitae humane (Theodor Zwinger)

16th century Swiss biographical dictionary that has a section on “tribades”.

Thérèse Figueur

18th century French woman who cross-dressed to serve in the army.

Thérèse the Philosophe (Jean-Baptiste de Boyer)

18th century French novel involving the seduction of one woman by another to recruit her for prostitution.

Théroigne de Méricourt

18th century French woman who cross-dressed openly as a symbol of women’s right to public participation in government.

Thomas Gibson

Author of an English anatomy textbook (1682) that associates lesbianism with an enlarged clitoris.

TIrant lo Blanc (Joanot Martorell)
Titus Andronicus (William Shakespeare)

16th century English play that suggests predatory homoerotics in a woman’s support of another woman’s rape.

To George Sand: A Desire (Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

19th century English poem evoking romantic and erotic imagery, particularly interesting for who it was directed to.

To Mr. J.D. (T.W.)

17th century English poem addressed from one man to another, but depicting their two poetic muses as engaging in lesbian sex.

To the Fair Clorinda (Aphra Behn)

17th century English poem expressing the poet’s romantic attraction to another woman.

Tractatus de Hermaphroditus or a Treatise of Hermaphrodites (Giles Jacob)

18th century Englsh text on “hermaphrodites,” which touches on intersex, transgender, and homosexual topics.

Tribades or Lesbia (François de Maynard)

17th century French poem satirizing an unnamed woman as participating in sex with other women.

Trijin Jurriaens of Hamburg

17th century German woman who cross-dressed sporadically as part of a criminal career that included becoming engaged to a woman to defraud her.

Trijntje Barents & Hendrickje Lamberts

18th century (?) Dutch women. The two began a sexual relationship as women, then Hendrickje began living as a man to continue the relationship.

Trijntje Simons/Simon Poort

Woman who cross-dressed to join the military (18th c?, Netherlands) and received full military honors at death.

Tristan de Nanteuil

14th century French romance in which a cross-dressing woman becomes the object of a woman’s desire resulting in marriage followed by a magical sex change.

Turkish Letters (Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq)

By a 16th century Flemish ambassador to the Ottoman court, describing lesbian activity in Turkish harems.

Twelfth Night (William Shakespeare)

16th century English play. One of Shakespeare’s several works that feature women falling in love with cross-dressed women.

Two Beauties Tender Lovers (Denis Sanguin de Saint-Pavin)

17th century English poem expressing the male author’s frustration at the romantic bond between two women that excludes him.

Two Noble Kinsmen (William Shakespeare and John Fletcher)

17th century English play in which devoted female friendship is positively contrasted with heterosexual marriage.

Upon Appleton House (Andrew Marvell)

17th century English poem that combines anti-Catholic and anti-lesbian themes in a story about a girl rescued from a convent.

Venus dans le Cloître (Abbe du Prat)

17th century French erotic novel involving sexual activity in a convent.

Venus’s Reply

17th century anonymous English poem humorously suggesting that the prevalence of male homosexuality was due to women turning their sexual desires to each other. Notable for use of the slang term “game of flats” and the use of “odd” to imply homosexuality.

Vicomtesse Turpin de Crissé

18th century French woman who cross-dressed to serve in the military.

Vida Scudder & Florence Converse
Vilette (Charlotte Brontë)

19th century English novel in which cross-dressed theatricals create homoerotic potential.

Virginia Woolf
Volpone (Ben Jonson)

17th c English play involving predatory lesbian themes.

Wafi Bil Wafiyat (Al-Safadi)

18th century Arabic-language satire implying a woman is a lesbian.

Wallada

11th century Spanish-Arabic princess and poet who had female lovers as well as male.

Warda

Medieval Arabic poet (cited in a 13th century text) who praised love between women.

Wilhelm Dumont (Karoline Paulus)

19th century German novel with cross-dressing themes.

Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)

18th century German novel with multiple cross-dressing characters.

Willa Cather

19th century American novelist who shared her life with a female romantic partner but whose work, unlike many of her contemporaries, did not represent passionate friendships between women.

William of Saliceto
William Shakespeare

16th century English playwright whose works often touch on themes of gender disguise or friendship between women.

William Wordsworth

19th century English poet who included themes of admiration for women’s romantic friendships.

Women Bathing (Jeanne Mignon)

 

16th century French etching depicting nude women in a bathhouse, including erotic interactions.

Women Beware Women (Thomas Middleton)

17th century English play involving the motif of a woman seducing another woman into prostitution.

Wonders of the Little World (Nathaniel Wanley)

17th century English book of “curiosities” that includes a list of spontaneous sex-changes, primarily f>m.

Yde and Olive

Medieval French romance (several variants fom the 13-14th centuries) involving a gender-disguised woman who wins the love and hand of a king’s daughter. Depending on the variant, the story either resolves with a divinely-mediated sex change or by marrying both women off to each other’s fathers.

Yvain

12th century French romance featuring a devoted friendship between a woman and her maidservant.