Charity and Sylvia now out on Kindle!

My new book, Charity and Sylvia: A Same-Sex Marriage in Early America, is now available for sale on Kindle.

Charity and Sylvia book cover

Publisher’s Weekly calls the book “beautifully written” and “an utterly absorbing love story.” Read the full review here.

Charity and Sylvia is the tale of two ordinary women who lived in an extraordinary same-sex marriage in early nineteenth-century Vermont. The product of nearly a decade of research and writing, Charity and Sylvia uses diaries, letters, poems, and other primary source records to tell the intimate story of a relationship that revolutionizes our understanding of the history of marriage. I am elated finally to be able to share with readers the women’s story. I hope you will fall in love with Charity and Sylvia just as I have.

Tom Foster, author of Sex and the Founding Fathers: The American Quest for a Relatable Past describes the book as “beautifully written and thoroughly researched. The story is poignant and full of surprises. The book’s examination of the lives of Charity and Sylvia is well supported by a rich and deep body of evidence. I couldn’t put it down.”

Carol Lasser, at Oberlin College, writes “[Cleves] has done an extraordinary job in putting together analysis and narrative to tell the story of how two women maintained their loving partnership with the support of family, friends and community, some 200 years before same-sex marriage won acceptance in major parts of the United States…In the end, the very ordinariness of the lives of these women who struggled to support themselves, to love each other, and to play upstanding roles in church and community, suggests how those who challenge social and religious norms can reshape the expectations of themselves, and those around them. Charity and Sylvia emerge from these pages as vibrant people in whose lives the readers become interested. We want to know them, and the author brings them to life for us.”

Please check out Charity and Sylvia in the Kindle store, and if you enjoy it, don’t forget to spread the word!

Author: Rachel Hope Cleves

Professor of history at the University of Victoria in British Columbia. Author of Charity and Sylvia: A Same-Sex Marriage in Early America (2014), and The Reign of Terror in America (2009). My new book about the notorious writer, Norman Douglas, will be out in October 2020. Now working on a project titled "Good Food, Bad Sex."

9 thoughts

  1. May I ask a question, since I was asked to locate the book in relevant historiography in our class discussions: are there other books about LGBTQ history in the field of the early Republic that inspired you while you were writing, and how does the research engage in conversations with works of woman’s history in the field? Thank you in advance! I really love the book and congratulations! Sally

    1. Thanks for the kind comments. Yes, I’ve been very inspired by a range of works in women’s history, LGBTQ history, and the history of the early republic, too many to count to be totally honest. The book owes a great deal to longstanding historiographies on women’s romantic friendships and queer erotics (dating back to Caroll Smith-Rosenberg and revised many times since including recent work by Lisa Moore), on women’s rights in the Revolution and post-revolutionary eras (dating back to Linda Kerber and revised many times since including recent work by Rosemarie Zagarri), on single women and laboring women (Karin Wulf, Marla Miller), on New England, on religion, on literary culture, on political culture, on health, on foodways, on kinship …. There’s no way to write microhistory without building on the scholarship of others!

  2. Rachel, my name is Karen Callahan, a decendant of William Cullen Bryant on my maternal side. When i found this book and read up on WCB, pieces of a life puzzle came together! I’m a lesbian, liberal, and alternative healing fan…all of which i’m the only one in my family…black sheep! As i read about Charity and Sylvia i constantly return to my family tree, looking for names of ancestors, and have found a few. There are 2 Charity Bryants, both of whom married a man. But of course “they” would not have put the lesbian aspect on the public family tree anyway. Lester P. Bryant copied and arranged the tree in 1894. Thank you for writing this book, researching the family lines (how confusing it is!), and publishing this book. If you wish, please contact me just for fun!

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