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Issue 16 . Spring 2005

Sweet sixteen and out on the razz . Forever on our minds . Adored and accepted . The life and times of Dougie Byng . News in the archive

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.

Music in the Woods by Eunice Buckley
Rose Allatini on the cover of Theosophical History
Rhapsody for Strings by Eunice Buckley

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.

Holiday bungalow
Allatini's career as the author, under various pen-names, of 38 novels, much concerned with reincarnation, is explored in a long piece by the scholar Jean Overton Fuller, while family reminiscences are offered in a shorter piece by Allatini's son.

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.


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