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HISTORY OF THE LESBIAN PULP NOVEL

Page history last edited by PBworks 16 years, 10 months ago

HISTORY OF THE LESBIAN PULP NOVEL

 

 

Others have and will write more definative histories of the lesbian pulp novel. What I want to do in this space is attempt to write an informal history of the pulps, citing comments from contemporary readers and writers as much as possible.

 

Barbara Grier is credited with creating the phrase 'the golden age of lesbian pulp fiction.' She cites the years 1950-1965 where every year hundreds of pulp novels dealing with lesbianism came out. The age was golden in terms of numbers, but also, and perhaps more importantley, in terms of authors who presented lesbians in a positive or sympathetic light. Interestingly, the age was also golden in that pulp novels were cheap - thus making them affordable to most everyone (in fact, she comments in The Ladder, the unfortunateness of novels that had been released in pulp moving into the hardback market in the mid 60s, thus making them much less affordable - but more on that later).

 

We all know the story of "Women's Barracks," the novel that perhaps started it all. And it started it all because the publishers felt that it was the lesbianism of the book that made it such a big seller (lesbianism is only part of what the novel is about so it's 'interesting' that this is what the publishers honed in on - and fortuitous for us!!!). Soon after 'Women's Barracks,' Vin Packer (aka Ann Aldrich and Maryjane Meaker) wrote 'Spring Fire,' the first pulp to deal exclusively with lesbianism and also a best seller - the flood gates opened, and everyone wanted a piece of the pie. In addition to Paperback Originals (novels that were published in paper back first and mostly only), publishers re-issued so called literary works in the pulp format (ex: We Too Are Drifting, The Well of Loneliness, etc.). Amazingly, and for better or for worse (and I would argue vastly for better) women all over the United States could now buy novels that had real and less real lesbians in them. And thankfully for all of us, Barbara Grier and others were there, documenting all of it.

 

 

 

"There are no really good paperback originals around anymore. I can't help wondering what happened to Valerie Taylor, Paula Christian, Ann Bannon, etc. Rumors circulate and say that Ann Bannon has given up writing. Valerie Taylor and Paula Christian seem to feel there is no publishing market for their kind of book, and Artemis Smith has left the field in favor of working toward hardback publication in esoteric fiction (which hasn't happened yet). It is, to put it bluntly, a damned shame, because the audience who bought their books by the thousands of copies still exists, still lives in isolated towns throuought the United States and still needs this vicarious involvement with a world they cannot or do not share personally."--Lesbiana, September 1967.

 

 

 

 

c2007 melodie morgan frances

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