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Boston Marriages Gone South
March 7 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pmFree
The Matheson History Museum is excited to welcome Betty Jean Steinshouer to give a presentation entitled “Boston Marriages Gone South,” which explores the lives of four same-sex couples who traveled to Florida together in the 19th and 20th centuries, long before marriage equality: Sarah Orne Jewett and Annie Fields; Katharine Loring and Alice James; Marjory Stoneman Douglas and Carolyn Percy Cole; and Elizabeth Bishop and Louise Crane.
Author Henry James coined the term “Boston Marriage” in his 1886 novel “The Bostonians.” Inspiration came from his sister Alice and her partner, Katharine, plus Miss Jewett and Mrs. Fields, who had the original Boston Marriage. The four went back and forth between New England and St. Augustine at the height of the Gilded Age, circa 1888, always stopping in St. Helena Island, SC, to see their mutual friends, Laura Towne and Ellen Murray. Then fast forward to four 20th century ladies. Both couples met at college (Marjory and Carolyn at Wellesley, Elizabeth and Louise at Vassar) and traveled to south Florida, where Marjory Stoneman Douglas and Elizabeth Bishop each became established authors with major Florida influences on their work. Ms. Steinshouer will examine the closeted relationships of these four couples and how they managed to stay connected in spite of secrecy and society’s judgments.