All We Know: Three Lives
by Lisa Cohen
Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 429 pages, $30.
BACK in the glory days of 1970s, “second wave feminism,” feminists sat in consciousness-raising groups across America talking about their lives and the lives of their mothers and grandmothers. We wanted to know about the dreams and aspirations of women’s lives. We yearned to document what we now term “herstory.” In All We Know: Three Lives, Lisa Cohen, who teaches at Wesleyan University, rescues from history’s dustbin the lives of three extraordinary, glamorous, brilliant, independent lesbians. Cohen’s project is a welcome addition to the Herstory Project.
Cohen profiles the lives of Esther Murphy (1897-1962), Mercedes de Acosta (1893-1968), and Madge Garland (1898-1990), three names that are virtually unknown to readers today. Yet in their heyday they occupied central positions in the intellectual, cultural, fashion, and social circles of Europe and North America.