This February, we are celebrating LGBT History Month by highlighting queer historical figures on Oxford Scholarly Editions Online (OSEO) who you may not have known about.
If you’ve seen the critically acclaimed film The Favourite then you will have been introduced to our first set of historical figures: Queen Anne and Sarah Churchill. We are highlighting some letters they exchanged, which have been taken from Snyder’s The Marlborough–Godolphin Correspondence, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2:
While these letters do not confirm the pair were romantically involved, they do suggest a certain level of sentiment between the two women, such as through the use of their affectionate names for each other: “Mrs Morley” and “Mrs Freeman”.
We would also like to share some letters from John Henry Newman, a 19th century cardinal, taken from The Letters and Diaries of John Henry Newman, Vol. 27 (edited by Dessain and Gornall). Newman is currently under consideration for canonisation, and in anticipation of this the Vatican planned to move his remains. This was met with anger by gay rights campaigners as Newman shared his grave with fellow priest Ambrose St John. The two men were close companions until the latter’s death, and, while they were not romantically involved, based on Newman’s letters following Ambrose’s death it could be said the pair had romantic feelings for each other:
- To Lord Blachford [31 May 1875]
- To Mrs Edward Bellasis [2 June 1875]
- To John Thomas Walford, S.J. [2 June 1875]