Issue 16 . Spring 2005
Adored and accepted
Two interesting fragments of lesbian history have recently floated our way on a slightly musty tide of esoteric research. Rose Allatini (1890-1980) is chiefly remembered today as the author of Despised and Rejected, a novel about conscientious objectors and homosexuality that was suppressed by the government after publication during the First World War for fear it would encourage pacifism amongst the troops.
Rose Allatini, the Vienna-born Jewish author of a stream of popular novels tinged with mysticism and lesbian references. Eunice Buckley was one of many pen names.
Despised and Rejected was reprinted by Gay Men's Press in 1988, with an introduction by the gay antiquarian Jonathan Cutbill making brief reference to Allatini's connection with Rye in Sussex. Articles published by the American journal Theosophical History paint a fuller picture of both Allatini's local roots and those of her friend Melanie Mills, whose house at Beckley near Rye she shared during the Second World War.
Melanie Mills, a five-time novelist herself, also emerges as an eminent candidate for lesbian reappraisal. Her 1935 memoir The Wheel of Rebirth (published under the name of HK Challoner), concerns the strange goings-on in a holiday bungalow on the Sussex seashore, and is still in circulation today, a classic of British mystical writing. A study of Mills's career and writings ought to shed some much-needed light on lesbian involvement in theosophy and its related branches.