Passions Between Women: British Lesbian Culture 1668-1801 (UK 1993, US 1996), my first book, is a groundbreaking and influential survey of printed texts on lesbian themes (trial records, newspapers, medical tracts, poems, novels, plays, etc) in English between the Restoration and the end of the eighteenth century. A finalist in the Lambda Literary Awards.
A personal note: Passions Between Women is not (and doesn’t overlap with) my PhD; it’s the book I wrote – with much more speed, zest and enjoyment - while I was meant to be working on my PhD (which I did finally finish years later, but almost nobody has read.) I think what lit a fire in my belly was not just the wish to prove myself, as a first-time historian barely into her twenties, but my irritation that so many published representations of desire between women had gone ignored or misread for so many centuries. I learned that burning to set the record straight is a great source of adrenalin, and so is working on something other than your official project: literary adultery, as it were! Passions was quite controversial in its day; apparently my devotion of a whole chapter to erotica caused a schism in a lesbian history discussion group.
'Outstanding and essential' – Pink Paper
'A well-researched book that brings out a great many fictional and real-life lesbians from the past... more than a little eye- and ear-opening.' – Washington Post
‘Passions Between Women’, Kirkus, 15 March 1995, https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/emma-donoghue/passions-between-women/#review