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Digital Subscriptions > DIVA Magazine > October 15 > “Romantically, passionately, foolishly”

“Romantically, passionately, foolishly”

KIRSTI BOHATA UNCOVERS THE LIFE OF AMY DILLWYN, VICTORIAN WRITER, INDUSTRIALIST AND CELEBRITY CIGAR-SMOKER

Aged 15, Amy Dillwyn fell in love, “romantically, passionately, foolishly”, with Olive Talbot, the daughter of a Victorian millionaire. Twelve years later, in 1872, Amy began to refer to Olive as her “wife” and in the 1880s she would transcribe her passionate devotion in a series of successful novels. The truth about Amy Dillwyn’s sexuality has been quietly suppressed, but now her diaries are being edited for publication and her lesbian novels reissued. Her unusually frank private diaries are an important addition to the ongoing recovery of lesbian history, and her unconventional fiction invites a reassessment of Victorian women’s writing and the literary coding of same-sex desire.

Until recently, Amy Dillwyn was best known for her extraordinary success as an industrialist and businesswoman. Aged nearly 50, she was forced into frugal lodgings when her father died (he was a well-respected and longstanding Liberal MP for Swansea but not a very good businessman). This catastrophic change in fortune was the making of her. No longer a semi-invalid, Dillwyn transformed her father’s near-bankrupt spelter works into a lucrative company with herself as sole director. As head of Dillwyn & Co she travelled to Europe and North Africa. Aged 60 she travelled by donkey high into the snow-covered Atlas mountains and went down into underground mines in Algeria looking for high-grade zinc ore for her works.

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About DIVA Magazine

Our cover star, Hannah Hart, has over two million fans who log into her quirky YouTube cookery show and it’s not hard to see why. Funny, talented, stylishly androgynous (and let’s face it, it’s still rare to see a show fronted by a boyish girl) and big on smarts, Hannah is our kind of woman. In her interview with DIVA she also shows us other sides to the goofball host who counts Jamie Oliver as a fan. While we’re fangirling, it seems a good time to mention actress Sophie Ward who talks about her part in the stage adaptation of Aldous Huxley’s dystopian novel Brave New World. Elsewhere in this issue, we address racism in our LGBT communities and what we can all do to challenge and eradicate it. Our communities have a proud history of pulling together to support each other, whether that was lesbians and bi women supporting gay men during the AIDS crisis or gay and bi women challenging inequality in respect of class or disability, and we have a duty to work alongside queer people of colour who experience overt and covert racism daily. As we approach National Coming Out Day on 12 October, we present tips on how and when to let people know. Our wedding feature is chock full of suggestions for wedding and honeymoon venues and destinations, so whether you or someone you know is planning for their big day, we hope you’ll find it useful. Also in this issue: Queer baiting on TV Eurogames in Stockholm With same-sex marriage rights won, what's next for the USA? WEGAN tell us all about their new dating site, Find Femmes Amy Dillwyn: Victorian writer, industrialist and cigar smoker Scene: Brighton's Traumfrau And all the very best in life, scene, books, film, music and TV
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