Aussie Queer History in 40 secs: Marie Bjelke Petersen

Marie Bjelke Petersen

Tasmanian novelist Marie Bjelke Petersen sold a remarkable 250,000 books in the early 1900s.

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Marie’s best seller was about Sylvia Mills who she lived with for 30 years. Sylvia was Marie’s angel.

“God’s Angels often come not as strangers whose lips never touch ours… but as close dear friends, whom we may fondle & caress.”

The book Jewelled Nights featuring a cross-dressing female heroine became one of Australia’s most popular early films.

Marie was also the aunt of authoritarian Queensland premier Joh Bjelke Petersen – of course … you don’t get to choose your rellies.



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Jewelled Nights

Marie’s novel Jewelled Nights told of a young woman who ditches a bloke she doesn’t love at the altar.

“Do you take this man to…”


She cuts her hair and heads into the Tasmanian wilderness disguised as a young man. Marie wrote the book in 1923, and she was a commercially successful author. So, of course, our cross-dressed heroine eventually meets a handsome man who springs she’s really a sheila, saves her from a villain, marries her… and they all live happily ever after. 💖🤪

However, the book does broach subjects usually avoided at the time — homosexuality and rape.

The story of Jewelled Nights – Marie Bjelke Petersen & Louise Lovely.

More Australian lesbian writers:

I. A. R. Wylie: the novelist, short story writer and screenwriter achieved worldwide renown, though in most readers’ minds, as a male author.

Passionate Friends: Mary Fullerton, Mabel Singleton & Miles Franklin.

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Destiny Rogers

Destiny Rogers embarked on her career in the media industry immediately after high school, initially joining Mirror News, which later evolved into News Ltd. She fondly recalls editing Ian Byford's 'Passing Glances: A History of Gay Cairns' as one of her most fulfilling projects. Additionally, Destiny co-researched and co-wrote 'The Queen's Ball', chronicling the history of the world's longest-running continuous queer event. Her investigative work on the history of Australia's COON Cheese and Edward Coon culminated in the publication 'COON: More Holes than Swiss Cheese', a collaborative effort with Dr. Stephen Hagan. Destiny's journey at QNews began as a feature writer, and she was subsequently elevated to the role of Managing Editor of QNews Magazine in 2018. However, in July 2022, she decided to resign from this role to refocus on research and feature writing. For contact, please reach out at

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