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Lesbia Harford
(1891 - 1927) Australia

Lesbia Harford



Lesbia Venner Keogh was born in Brighton, Melbourne, the eldest of four children. Convent-educated, she became one of the first female law graduates at the University of Melbourne. An an undergraduate, Harford fell in love with Katie Lush, a philosophy tutor at Ormond College.

Her experience of desire between women in conservative Melbourne is encapsulated in the final stanza of one poem from 1915:

Would that I were Sappho,
Greece my land, not this!
There the noblest women,
When they loved, would kiss

(From: I can't feel the sunshine)

Like Pat Harford, whom she married later, she was a fellow labour radical. She worked in clothing factories rather than exploiting class privilege. Born with a weak heart, she died of pneumonia. Her Australian Dictionary of Biography entry highligts Harford's socialism, but is silent on her lifelong relationship with Lush.


Source: excerpts from: Aldrich R. & Wotherspoon G., Who's Who in Gay and Lesbian History, from Antiquity to WWII, Routledge, London, 2001

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