How and when did society first recognize women's homoerotic bonds? Were these romantic friendships fully accepted, or were they seen as problematic? Did the women involved see themselves as lesbians? These and other questions have been raised over the past twenty years by historians of lesbian sexuality. When Lillian Faderman in her pioneering survey of European and American lesbians declared the nineteenth century as the golden age of unproblematic romantic friendships, historians quickly responded with evidence to the contrary. Much of this debate has been focused on whether or not women could be considered “lesbian” before they claimed (or had forced on them) a publicly acknowledged identity. But the modern lesbian did not appear one day fully formed in the case studies of the fin-de-siècle sexologists; rather she was already a recognizable, if shadowy, subject for gossip among the sophisticated by at least the 1840s and 1850s. By examining closely a single divorce trial, I hope to show that literary and legal elites acknowledged lesbian sexuality in a variety of complex ways. Their uneasy disapproval encompassed both a self-conscious silence in the face of evidence and a desire to control information, lest it corrupt the innocent. Yet who can define the line between the ignorant and the informed? The very public discussion of the Codrington divorce, and most especially the role of the feminist, Emily Faithfull, in alienating Helen Codrington's affections from her husband, demonstrate the recognition of female homosexual behavior.