Chris Roulston

Chris Roulston is professor of French Studies and Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies at the University of Western Ontario, Canada. She is currently working on a monograph on British twentieth-century girls' boarding-school narratives and co-editing with Caroline Gonda a collection of essays on the Yorkshire diarist, Anne Lister (1791-1840), with Cambridge University Press. She has recently published articles on Lister in The Journal of the History of Sexuality and in Eighteenth-Century Studies and on the queer family in Studies in Canadian Literature.


Olivia (1949) by Dorothy Strachey. With introduction by André Aciman

In 2020, Penguin Classics reissued Dorothy Strachey’s Olivia (1949), which tells the story of a sixteen-year-old girl from London sent to a French boarding school on the outskirts of Paris, Les Avons, where she falls passionately in love with one of her teachers, Mlle Julie. Olivia is an exceptional narrative in terms of its content, its composition, and its publication history. Strachey (1865-1960) was part of the prominent Strachey family, whose father played a key role in the development of the British Empire in India as a military engineer. Dorothy’s five siblings included Lytton Strachey, author of Eminent Victorians (1918); James Strachey, translator of Freud’s English Standard Edition; Pernel Strachey, who became principal of Newnham College, Cambridge; Pippa Strachey, who became Secretary of the London Society of Women’s Suffrage; and Marjorie Strachey, a writer and French teacher. Dorothy, not to be outdone, became the official English translator of the eminent French author, André Gide.

Translating Desire: Queer Affect, Autobiography, and Involuntary Love in Dorothy Strachey’s Olivia

Dorothy Strachey, the older sister of the biographer and essayist Lytton Strachey, and of the psychoanalyst and translator of Sigmund Freud, James Strachey, published her only novel, Olivia, in 1949, under the pseudonym of “Olivia.”[1]