Silent witness? : Aileen Palmer and the problem of evidence in lesbian history
How do we make sense of private lives and private papers? this article examines some of the issues that confronted the author when beginning to think about how to use Aileen Palmer's personal papers in the specific context of lsbian historiography. The article offers both a reading of the multiple life stories of Aileen Palmer (1915-1988), daughter of one of Australia's most famous literary families, and a reading of the author's own role as lesbian historian examining the nature of "evidence" in the recovery of lesbian lives. PalmerÄs archive, lodged at the National Library of Australia in Canberra, raises in productive ways many of the major issues in lesbian history. In her reading of letters, drafts of novels, diaries and autobiographical fiction, the author of this article teases out the threads of alternative life stories that can be discerned in Aileen Palmer's private/public papers that point to her hidden history; a history she could not consign to total silence.