“Boston Marriage” was a term used in the 19th century and early 20th century to refer to two single women living together, independent of men. The term was originally coined in Henry James’ novel The Bostonians, which told the tale of an intimate companionship between two wealthy, Boston women. Rumored to have been based on his sister’s relationship with a woman, James referred to the novel as “a very American tale.” Whether he was referring to the notion of homosexual relationships or the promise of gender equality is unclear. Interestingly enough, Massachusetts was the first state to legalize same-sex marriage in 2004. So perhaps Henry James was on to something.
David Mamet brought the concept to popularity again in the year 2000 with his play of the same name, “Boston Marriage.” According to the New Repertory Theatre’s notes on the Mamet play, “[Boston Marriages] potentially fostered rather than interfered with the heady and exciting new ambitions of the early generations of professional women … Most likely, the Boston Marriage was many things to many women: business partnership, artistic collaboration, lesbian romance. And sometimes it was a friendship nurtured with all the care that we usually squander on our mates.” Keep reading »