Using a rich array of oral histories and archival sources, Tomboys and bachelor girls provides the first detailed academic study of lesbian identity and culture in post-war Britain. Described by psychiatrists as immature and neurotic, and widely ignored as taboo by mainstream society, lesbians nevertheless recognised and accepted their same-sex desire and sought out women like themselves. Challenging the conventional picture of the post-war decades as years of austerity and conservative femininity, this book traces the emergence of a vibrant lesbian social scene in Britain, centred on the metropolitan nightclubs of post-war London, but also developing across the country, through lesbian magazines and social organisations. This fascinating book brings to life the rich history of post-war lesbian culture for the scholarly and general reader alike.
Introduction -- 1. Tomboys, crushes and the construction of adolescent lesbian identities -- 2. The ‘all-out career woman’ and narratives of lesbianism at work -- 3. Lesbian domesticity: relationships and the home -- 4. The Gateways Club and the emergence of a post-war lesbian subculture -- 5. ‘Arena Three’ and the articulation of a collective lesbian identity -- Conclusion.