Historic Lesbians on the Screen

Historic Lesbians on the Screen: What We Love is the topic of The Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast with Heather Rose Jones

Episode 34c

The folks on the Lesbian Talk Show facebook group tell me about their favorite lesbian historical movies and miniseries

Listen to this episode here

Movies Mentioned:

Interview by Elizabeth Andersen with Madeleine Olnek about Wild Nights with Emily on The Tenth Voice

A transcript of this podcast is available here.

Links to the Lesbian Historic Motif Project Online


please note this transcript has not been edited and is automatically generated meaning certain words will be incorrect

[Music] this is Heather Rose Jones with a lesbian historic motif podcast this weekly podcast looks at lesbian themes in history and literature and historic research into gender and sexuality we talk about current historical fiction with queer female characters including fantastic versions of the past and have interviews with authors who write those stories and in months when we have a fifth show we’re proud to present new original lesbian historical fiction for your enjoyment between last year’s movie the favorite the current HBO miniseries Gentleman Jack and the recent sapphic take on Emily Dickinson wild nights with Emily we seem to be living in a golden age of historical lesbians on the screen a plan to add more coverage of these movies and TV shows in this podcast though I confess I won’t go so far as to subscribe to HBO solely for the sake of seeing Gentleman Jack and release to kick off this plan I asked some of the folks on the lesbian talk show Facebook group to share their favorite shows the response has covered quite a swath of release dates and settings it’s not at all surprising that Sarah waters came in for a lot of love Brendan Murphy says Tipping the Velvet and of course fingersmith also there’s an adaptation of fingersmith set in Korea during the Japanese occupation called the handmaiden that I love Tipping the Velvet is of course the picaresque tale of an oyster sellers daughter who falls through a cross-dressing stage performer in Victorian England the 2002 British miniseries was followed three years later by another darker Sarah waters miniseries fingersmith also said in Victorian England it follows two young women through layers of deception and fraud that turn your understanding of the plot inside out the Japanese version the handmaiden keeps the central plot but translates it to a different setting our fearless leader sheena comments the miniseries adaptation of fingersmith was simply gorgeous and she goes on to say I loved the film version of the secret diaries of Miss Anne Lister this would be the 2010 movie about early 19th century lesbian and Lister which mostly focuses on an earlier part of her life than the new miniseries alexis jackson recommends if these walls could talk part two calling it my favorite lesbian movie ever if these walls could talk was something of a high concept series telling multiple independent short stories set in the same house the second movie in the series focused on three lesbian stories representing three generations of women from the 1960s through 2000 Elizabeth Anderson is overflowing with recommendations one our LGBT Film Festival we’re showing next month is Fida and Virginia about Vita sackville-west and Virginia Woolf I’m excited to see it Orlando because Tilda Swinton is marvelous these two go together well of course because the movie Orlando is based on Virginia Wolf’s novel about an immortal gender shifting character born in the 16th century and watching the world go by for three centuries Wolf’s brilliant and experimental writing was ahead of its time in the early 20th century her complex personal life included romantic relationships with several women but the relationship with fellow author Vita sackville-west was particularly inspiring for both women Sarah hunt sec recommends the hours which has another virginia woolf connection being a study of how wolf’s novel mrs. Dalloway affects three generations of women who connect with its themes and I mean Meryl Streep Nicole Kidman and Julianne Moore what other reason do you need to watch it Margaret snow recommends miss marks and miss wooly but I can’t find a movie by that name and I think she must mean the book of that title she notes it’s a biography of former Smith College president and her partner one wrote travelogues they had a beautiful home on Lake Champlain that I got to tour once owned by a cousin’s aunt inspirational to see women living and succeeding on their own in the 1940s the two met at Wellesley College in the 1890s when Willie was a professor there you’ve probably heard the term Boston marriage for women and lifelong romantic partnerships in the later 19th and early 20th century but the label well ously marriage was also popular in reference to the number of female couples among the faculty of that woman’s college Marx became a professor at Mount Holyoke College and will they became president of Mount Holyoke the same year there were a couple for 55 years their story would definitely make a great movie but I can’t find any mention of it having been done yet Massachusetts around the turn of the 20th century is also the setting of another movie recommended by Elizabeth Anderson she notes packed in a trunk is a documentary but so good Edith Lake Wilkinson born in 1868 was an artist who lived and painted in Provincetown Massachusetts during the early decades of the 20th century until she was committed to an asylum for the mentally ill in 1924 Wilkinson’s great-niece wrote and directed elizabeth finishes out her recommendations with Carole reaching for the moon in Albert Nobbs Carole is the 2015 adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s novel the price of salt perhaps the first lesbian novel of the Pope era to dared to claim a happy ending reaching for the moon appears to be more in the tragic vein a brazilian biopic about American poet Elizabeth Bishop and Brazilian architect loaded a Masada Suarez Albert Nobbs was also limited to the art house circuit back in 2012 starring Glenn Close it’s the story of a woman in late 19th century Ireland passing as a man to work as a butler in the hotel her imagination is open to new possibilities when she encounters another passing woman and her wife Meredith Santiago recommends Amy and Jaguar and notes I haven’t seen it yet but wild nights with Emily looks interesting I’d be curious to hear your take on that movie and on Emily Dickinson that definitely sounds like a great quest to do another pair of shows like I did for Queen and at the favorite I can’t find clearer information on how to find wild nights with Emily Wikipedia claims it premiered in March 2018 but then says it was released just last month in April 29th live a scum knows nothing but oh wait wait the website for the movie says it’s playing right now at several art house theaters in my area anyone in the San Francisco Bay Area want to get together for a movie I mean I’ll probably have gone ahead and seen it by the time this podcast airs but I could see it again seriously find me on social media let’s set something up Elizabeth Anderson comments yes I don’t know why I spaced on that one I’ve seen it twice and it’s what I’d recommend without reservation and she provides a link for an interview she did with the director last June for her show the tenth voice I’ll put a link in the show and speaking of shownotes I’ll include links to the IMDB entries for all of these movies in the notes so look forward to more movie content in this podcast probably coordinated with essays about the historic context and if you’d like to be a guest and talk in depth about lesbian historic movies drop me a note and let me know I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of the lesbian historic motif podcast if you want to follow up on anything we’ve covered see the show notes for links and to contact me with questions book announcements or topic suggestions if you enjoyed this podcast please read it and subscribe on iTunes stitcher or pod bean and consider supporting our patreon and if you’re on Facebook check out the lesbian talk show chat group [Music]