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The Berrys’ geographical mobility is striking: Many journeys took them abroad, mostly to Italy, France, Switzerland, and Germany, in the years 1783–1785, 1790–1791, 1802, 1802–1803, 1816, 1816–1818, 1819–1821, 1822–1823, 1827, 1828–1829, 1830, 1834, and 1836. Tours in Britain led to the seaside, to Scotland, Wales, and Yorkshire, yet most of these shorter trips receive less attention in Mary’s journals. The Berrys spent much of their lives in or near London in houses they rented. In 1790, they moved to North Audley Street, where they stayed until 1824, and in 1825 to Curzon Street.

Since Walpole was 40 Br itish L iter a ry Sa lons apparently jealous of the friendship between the women, Mary Berry, whose public persona was built on her closeness to her patron, may have decided to present him rather than Damer as her major social contact of the 1790s. Walpole, however, generously acknowledged their deep friendship when he left Little Strawberry Hill to the Berrys and Strawberry Hill to Damer, thus enabling them to remain neighbors. Donoghue’s recent historical novel Life Mask (2004)59 uses Damer’s notebooks to map out the friendship and, eventually, the love affair between the two women.

51 The male clothes, the phallic walking stick, and the “extasies” imply that Damer may have acted as Berry’s substitute husband in other areas, too. Since no explicit eighteenth-century accounts of sex between women exist—only derogatory texts like satires, probably by men who aimed to discredit such sexual practices—we cannot be sure what went on behind closed doors and whether Damer had affairs with women or not. If her sculptures prove that she was a successful competitor in a male environment, her one novel, Belmour (1801), lets us glimpse another side of her, the closeted artist, whose desires may have led her astray from the path of heterosexual righteousness.

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