Queer history. Retelling. Joyful.
  • She and Her Pretty Friend
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She and Her Pretty Friend

Danielle Scrimshaw

A joyous look at the history of lesbian and bisexual women in Australia – from 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’.

About the Author

Danielle Scrimshaw is a writer, historian and lighthouse enthusiast. Her 2019 essay ‘Be Gay, Do Crime: Or, the Ballad of Catherine and Ellen’ was shortlisted for the Deakin University Nonfiction Prize. Her thesis on queer women’s narratives in Australian history – or the lack thereof – was highly commended by the Australian Queer Archives. Last year she was a finalist for Forty South Magazine’s Van Diemen History Prize 2020-2021. She has been published in Voiceworks, Overland, Scum Mag and Archer Magazine. She and Her Pretty Friend is her first book.



‘another a piece of the puzzle that is unearthing women’s stories from the past ... a beautifully told history’ – Books+Publishing


‘Scrimshaw blends juicy stories from the past with her own cheeky asides from a contemporary point of view … She and Her Pretty Friend provides an enjoyable entry point into queer women’s history in Australia, establishing the antecedents so many of us yearn for.’  The Saturday Paper


‘From colonisation to the suffragettes, it’s a fascinating look at the hidden histories of queer women.’ – Sydney Morning Herald


‘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


‘She and Her Pretty Friend is a pioneering and indispensable study of queer histories. In this eloquent, lively and compelling account, Danielle Scrimshaw brings to life with great skill and flair the experiences of queer women in Australian history. By drawing together a wide canvas of the history of sexualities, colonialism, class and race, Scrimshaw reveals many untold but vital stories, thus deeply enriching our understanding of the powerful and enduring place of queer women in Australia’s past.’ – Professor Joy Damousi


‘[Scrimshaw] undertakes a historical rescue operation, building on the work of other historians to make visible some of the many queer women who have been written out of history’ – Australian Book Review




Pub Date
May 2023




History. LGBTQIA+