Re: Nonmonogamous/Polyamorous Historical Figures?

Thank you everyone for your replies (not to discourage further replies if anyone thinks of them!)

Alexie-- yes indeed, Marston is a good starting place (and one of the reasons I'm down this rabbit hole to begin with)!

Lesley-- thank you to the pointers towards Georgiana Cavendish, the Russells and the Mitchisons as well as Browne, these are really interesting starting profiles that could have interesting rewards!

Re: Nonmonogamous/Polyamorous Historical Figures?

Hi!

I’m working on these figures (or figures quite closely related) in the late nineteenth century. Phrases to look for in that time-period are “varietism” and “complex marriage”. The super-term for these people and how they were caricatured in the popular presses was, of course, as “free lovers” or “sex radicals.” Not all free lovers were varietists.

Re: Nonmonogamous/Polyamorous Historical Figures?

Hi Brian,
Great topic! In the nineteenth century United States I would take a look at Joanne Passet's book Sex Radicals and the Quest for Women's Equality; Hal Sears, The Sex Radicals: Free Love in High Victorian America; and John Spurlock, Free Love: Marriage and Middle-Class Radicalism in America, 1825-1860 to get an overall background. There were several Utopian communities that practiced some form of polyamory or free love including Oneida, Berlin Heights and Modern Times in the nineteenth century. Good luck with your project.

Re: Nonmonogamous/Polyamorous Historical Figures?

Dear Brian,

That's certainly fraught, as the idea of ethical nonmonogamy is very much a twentieth-century creation. Traditionally, it has been the right of powerful men to have multiple partners (numerous kings had mistresses, for instance, as well as male lovers). The same went with . Before the mid-twentieth century, William Moulton Marston (creator of Wonder Woman) strikes me as one of the few examples. There's also some eighteenth- and nineteenth-century bohemians and religious movements (Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter perhaps, Saint-Simonians, the Oneida Community).

Re: Nonmonogamous/Polyamorous Historical Figures?

Interestng question: can one include the kinds of arrangements in aristocratic life that pertained when marriages were made for reasons that had nothing to do with personal preferences and dissolutions were very difficult to obtain? - for an instance, you might look at Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire (1757-1806) - where some historians have argued that the relationship between her and her husband's mistress, Lady Elizabeth Foster, was either an intense romantic friendship or even more, and at least as important to both women as that of either of them to the Duke.

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