glbtq: an encyclopedia of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender & queer culture
social sciences
special features
about glbtq


   member name
   Forgot Your Password?  
Not a Member Yet?  

  Advertising Opportunities
  Permissions & Licensing
  Terms of Service
  Privacy Policy






Alpha Index:  A-B  C-F  G-K  L-Q  R-S  T-Z

Subjects:  A-B  C-E  F-L  M-Z

Hall, Richard (1926-1992)  

In his novels and short stories, plays, and critical writings, Richard Hall focused almost exclusively on issues of gay identity and community.

Hall was born Richard Hirshfeld in New York City on November 26, 1926, into an extended family of transplanted Southern Jews. In 1934, his immediate family moved to the New York suburb of White Plains, where his mother became active in the Episcopal Church and he and his sister were baptized. In 1938, after an antisemitic incident involving his sister's admission to a church-affiliated camp, Hall's mother changed their name and moved the family to another suburb.

Hall matriculated at Harvard in 1943 and graduated cum laude in January 1948. In the 1950s, he underwent deep-Freudian analysis in an attempt to change his sexual orientation but abandoned psychiatric treatment in 1960 when he fell in love with a young Texan named Dan Allen, whom he described as the greatest influence on his life.

After a career in advertising and publishing, Hall entered New York University to earn an M.A. in English Education. On graduation in 1970, he accepted a job at Inter American University in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where he served as acting director of the University Press until 1974.

During the 1970s, he established a long-lasting relationship with Arthur Marceau (who died of AIDS in 1989) and began publishing fiction and nonfiction in the newly vital gay and lesbian media. From 1976 to 1982, Hall was contributing editor for books of the gay newsmagazine The Advocate. He died of complications from AIDS on October 29, 1992.

Although he is the author of a popular mystery (The Butterscotch Prince [1975]), a fine autobiographical novel (Family Fictions [1991]), and several plays, Hall's claim to lasting literary fame rests on his short fiction.

Varied in their settings, their characters, and their modes, the stories collected in Couplings (1981), Letters from a Great Uncle (1985), and Fidelities (1992) demonstrate Hall's ability to encompass a wide range of character types and situations within a vision that can span the comic and the satiric as well as the tragic and the mythic.

Typified by epiphanic moments, an empathetic approach to character, and an awareness of the complexities of truth, these works constitute a significant contribution to the post-Stonewall renaissance of gay literature.

Even though Hall's themes are both varied and universal, his subject matter is unabashedly and almost exclusively gay. His stories focus on issues of gay identity and community, on the problems of intimacy and commitment between men, and on the intersection of the public and the private in the process of self-fashioning.

Hall's work features a wide variety of gay men who are captured at moments of crisis, grappling with the legacies of hurtful pasts as they struggle to achieve authenticity. "The Jilting of Tim Weatherall," an unsentimental yet extraordinarily moving account of a man dying of AIDS, may be his most powerful story.

Hall deserves recognition as an important chronicler of the post-Stonewall gay male experience and as an accomplished master of the short story. In carefully shaped fictions, distinguished by resonant prose, psychological penetration, and deeply imagined characters, Hall explores crucial issues of American gay life in the aftermath of liberation with empathy, clarity, and insight.

As Michael Lynch observed in 1985, "the straight literary world has resisted recognizing Hall's fictional and critical achievements because of his material--our lives." Nevertheless, he remains "one of our prime cultural resources."

Claude J. Summers


Contact Us
Join the Discussion
Related Entries
More Entries by this contributor
A Bibliography on this Topic

Citation Information
More Entries about Literature
Popular Topics:


Williams, Tennessee
Williams, Tennessee

Literary Theory: Gay, Lesbian, and Queer

The Harlem Renaissance
The Harlem Renaissance

Romantic Friendship: Female
Romantic Friendship: Female

Feminist Literary Theory

American Literature: Gay Male, 1900-1969
American Literature: Gay Male, 1900-1969

Erotica and Pornography
Erotica and Pornography

Mishima, Yukio
Mishima, Yukio

Sadomasochistic Literature

Beat Generation
Beat Generation


   Related Entries
literature >> Overview:  AIDS Literature

In the twenty years since its first appearance in the West, AIDS has been the subject of a large body of literature, most of it written by gay men and much of it designed to expose readers as closely as possible to the emergency of the epidemic and the suffering of affected individuals.

literature >> Overview:  American Literature: Gay Male, Post-Stonewall

After Stonewall, gay male literature became focused as a movement, aided by the development of gay newspapers, magazines, and quarterlies and the founding of serious gay and lesbian bookstores.

literature >> Overview:  Jewish-American Literature

Jewish-American gay and lesbian literature is marked by its rich heritage, diverse subject matter, and thriving vitality.

literature >> Overview:  Journalism and Publishing

The gay and lesbian press is of prime importance in sustaining a frequently embattled minority and has been crucial in the development of a national mass movement for gay rights.

literature >> Overview:  Mystery Fiction: Gay Male

In the decades since Stonewall, gay male mystery fiction has burgeoned in United States, both in quantity and in quality, and has increasingly been issued by mainstream presses.

social sciences >> Goodstein, David

Publisher David Goodstein transformed The Advocate into the leading American gay newsmagazine.


Clark, J. Michael. Liberation and Disillusionment: The Development of Gay Male Criticism and Popular Fiction a Decade After Stonewall. Los Colines, Tex.: Liberal Press, 1987.

Lynch, Michael. "Reflections at Middle Age." Body Politic, August 1985, 36.


    Citation Information
    Author: Summers, Claude J.  
    Entry Title: Hall, Richard  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated February 28, 2004  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 1995, 2002 New England Publishing Associates  


This Entry Copyright © 1995, 2002 New England Publishing Associates is produced by glbtq, Inc., 1130 West Adams Street, Chicago, IL   60607 glbtq™ and its logo are trademarks of glbtq, Inc.
This site and its contents Copyright © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.
Your use of this site indicates that you accept its Terms of Service.