Dear Margaret: the interconnected lives and work of queer women in 20th century British social science

Year of award: 2018


  • Dr Katherine Hubbard

    University of Surrey

Project summary

Few details remain about the unconventional and possibly queer women working in British psy-disciplines in the mid-20th century. Yet, the Wellcome Library has an impressive collection of materials relating to this area. 

This project will consider the queer lives of women working in disciplinary fields which pathologised ‘sexual deviancy’. In exploring these networks using the Wellcome archive, I will investigate the academic and personal lives of Margaret Lowenfeld, Magdalen Vernon, Margaret Mead and Charlotte Wolff. This will correspond to the collections of Magnus Hirschfeld and David King, Donald Winnicott and Joan Fitzherbert and draw extensively on those of Ismond Rosen, who wrote extensively on ‘sexual deviancy’. In contrasting the lives and work of the networks of queer women against disciplinary norms and attitudes, I will analyse the juxtaposition of these women’s lives in the contexts of their own working environment. 

I will develop an intersectional feminist, queer knowledge about these people as well as an inclusive history which uncovers the hidden queer stories residing in our archives.