Partner Gluck

Queer Places:
3635 Diamond Head Rd, Honolulu, HI 96816

Ella Ernestine "Nesta" Sawyer Obermer (1896-1984) was made an Officer of the British Empire for her war-time broadcasts from England to the USA. In 1936 Gluck painted a double profile portrait to commemorate her 'marriage' to the writer and socialite Nesta Obermer, entitled Medallion, but she referred to it as YouWe. This work was intended to comment on the social divisions and difficulties of leading a lesbian life at that time. As Obermer recalled some sixty years later, ‘running away, about which Gluck was obsessional, was the biggest thing in her life, and she not only told every new acquaintance about tis at once, but put it clearly in a biographical sketch which she completed, had typed out, and xeroxed and distributed lavishly.’

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Nesta and Gluck, 1938-39

Medallion was inspired by a night in 1936 when Gluck and Nesta attended a Fritz Busch production of Mozart's Don Giovanni.[3] According to Gluck's biographer Diana Souhami, "They sat together in the third row and felt the intensity of the music fused them both into one person and matched their love." Gluck referred to it as the "YouWe" picture.[4] It was later used as the cover of a Virago Press edition of The Well of Loneliness.[5]

Nesta Obermer moved to Haway in 1948 where she earned the reputation as "The Master Voice" in recognition of her splendid tape recordings of great books of world literature for the blind. At first she spend six years at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, and then bought a home in Diamond Head, Honolulu. She, with her husband Seymour Obermer (died 1957), gave devoted directorship to the Heritage Craft Schools for Crippled Children in England. Mrs. Obermer gave support to Amnesty International, the Yehudi Menuhin School in Surrey, England and the Royal Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. She also played an active role in politics as a speaker for England's Conservative Party. She was always a strong booster of youth and learning, giving countless private – and usually anonymous – grants to individuals (including students of Northwood) for the pursuit of their education and the realization of their talents. Nesta Obermer gave a new dimension to an old Shakespearean quotation: "How far that little candle throws its beams! So shines a good deed in a naughty world."

In 1969 Obermer moved back to Europe; she bought a house near Lausanne, Switzeland. She spent springs in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and South Africa.

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