She and Her Pretty Friend

Danielle Scrimshaw

She and Her Pretty Friend
Ultimo Press
3 May 2023

She and Her Pretty Friend

Danielle Scrimshaw

A joyous look at the history of lesbian and bisexual women in Australia – from colonisation to convict times, through suffrage and liberation to today

Throughout history, women’s relationships have been downgraded and diminished. Instead of lovers, they are documented as particularly close friends; the type that made out, worked, lived, and are buried together. Besties, if you will. She and Her Pretty Friend aims to dispel this myth. It is an exploration of women’s relationships through Australian history, each chapter centring on a specific person, couple, or time period.

With a focus on women such as Anne Drysdale, Lesbia Harford, and Cecilia John, She and Her Pretty Friend centres on stories of those who have remained obscured and less spoken of in the historical narrative. Throughout this retelling of Australian history, Scrimshaw explores how colonisation altered ideas of sexuality, how the suffrage movement in Australia created opportunities for queer women, and details her own part in creating queer history. Rather than continuing to deny a queer past, Scrimshaw encourages readers – and other historians – to open themselves to the idea that perhaps some people were more to each other than just ‘roommates’.

‘For centuries, there has been so little recorded about the lives of queer people. Only a fraction of that is dedicated to queer women, let alone queer women in so-called Australia. She and Her Pretty Friend does a wonderful job of uncovering these stories while conveying the collective frustration of queer women longing to see themselves represented in the narrative of history.’ – Hannah McElhinney, Rainbow History Class

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