Cambridge University Press has bought a “groundbreaking” book charting the rise and fall of “female husbands” in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Deborah Gershenowitz, senior commissioning editor in American and Latin American history and politics, bought world print and digital rights to Female Husbands: A Trans History by Jen Manion from Cecelia Cancellaro at Word Literary.
Female husbands - people assigned female, who lived as men and married women - were the "true queer pioneers" and "paved the way for so many that are transgender today", said Gershenowitz.
Written entirely in non-binary language, Female Husbands “uncovers the fascinating personal stories of ordinary people who lived as men despite tremendous risk, danger, violence, and threat of punishment”. It includes the story of Anne Lister, an English landowner and diarist from Halifax, West Yorkshire, whose life was made into the recent BBC and HBO series “Gentleman Jack”.
The synopsis explains: “The book weaves the story of their lives in relation to broader social, economic, and political developments in the United Kingdom and the United States while also exploring how attitudes towards female husbands shifted in relation to transformations in gender politics and women's rights, ultimately leading to the demise of the category of “female husband” in the early twentieth century.”
Manion, who identifies as transgender, is associate professor of history at Amherst College, Massachusetts, and a lifelong LGBTQ rights advocate.
Gershenowitz added: “This is a truly groundbreaking book that will transform our understanding of trans history and of the LGBTQ past.”