Tomboys and bachelor girls

A lesbian history of post-war Britain 1945-71

By Rebecca Jennings

Tomboys and bachelor girls

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-8992-3
  • Pages: 224
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £16.99
  • Published Date: August 2013
  • BIC Category: Humanities / British & Irish history, Gay & Lesbian Studies, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Gay Studies, HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain / 20th Century, HISTORY / Social History, European history, Gay & Lesbian studies, Relating to Gay men, History, Modern History


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.


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


Rebecca Jennings is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Modern History at Macquarie University, Sydney

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