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Special Features Index  

 
Spotlight American Literature: Lesbian, 1900-1969
 
  Twentieth Century American Lesbian LiteratureTwentieth-century American Lesbian Literature prior to the Stonewall rebellion exploited the "outlaw" status of the lesbian as it moved from encrypted strategies of expression to overt political celebrations of woman-for-woman passion.  
 
 
  Margaret AndersonMargaret Anderson (1886-1973) is most famous as the editor of The Little Review, a literary and political journal that published works by important early twentieth-century writers. Anderson also wrote a novel and an autobiography that describe her personal life as a woman-loving-woman.  
 
 
  Ann BannonAnn Bannon (pseud.of Ann Thayer, b. 1932) wrote a series of five interlinked pulp novels set in Greenwich Village and its homosexual bars in the late 1950s and early 1960s that provides an important record of lesbian life in a period when few women dared speak openly about homosexuality.  
 
 
  Djuna BarnesDjuna Barnes (1892-1982) was an American novelist who sought new forms of lesbian self-representation in the face of society's compulsory heterosexuality.  
 
 
  Natalie Clifford BarneyNatalie Clifford Barney (1876-1972) was a writer famous for her operatic love affairs, her philosophical commitment to flirtation and nonmonogamy, and her social prominence in the community of largely lesbian expatriates that formed in Paris during the early twentieth century.  
 
 
  Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979) is widely acknowledged as one of the finest twentieth-century American poets, a reputation she achieved despite her alcoholism and bouts of serious mental illness.  
 
 
  Marion Zimmer Bradley (1930-1999), a matriarch of fantasy and science fiction literature, also wrote lesbian paperback pulps and articles for the homophile magazines The Ladder and Mattachine Review.  
 
 
  Willa CatherWilla Cather (1873-1947) was one of America's premier literary artists in the earlier twentieth century. Cather reflected her own lesbianism in the creation of strong women characters and in the exploration of male homosexuality.  
 
 
  Hilda DoolittleHilda Doolittle (1886-1961), a bisexual poet and memoirist who published under the initials H. D., wrote poems and autobiographical prose works that celebrate women's romantic relationships with each other.  
 
 
  Janet FlannerJanet Flanner (1892-1978) was a novelist, translator, and journalist best known for her fortnightly "Letter from Paris," which she wrote for the New Yorker from 1925 to 1975.  
 
 
  Diana Frederics (pseudonym, fl. 1930s) is the pseudonymous author of Diana: A Strange Autobiography (1939) whose identity remains a mystery. It is a coming out story that explores the relationship between lesbians and the larger culture and between lesbians and the medical profession.  
 
 
  Judy Grahn (b. 1940)--lesbian feminist poet, gay cultural theorist, archaeologist, critic, autobiographer, historian, archivist, publisher, biographer, activist, editor, anthropologist, and teacher who picketed the White House in 1963 with the Mattachine Society--has been one of the most effective leaders of the gay rights movement both pre- and post-Stonewall.
 
 
 
  Barbara Grier (b. 1933), a bibliographer, reviewer, collector, editor, and co-founder of Naiad Press, has been an important nurturer of lesbian literature.  
 
 
  Angelina Weld GrimkeAngelina Weld Grimké (1880-1958) was the first African American to have a play, Rachel (1916; published in 1920), staged. Grimké's poetry regularly appeared in journals, newspapers, and anthologies during the era now known as the Harlem Renaissance.  
 
 
  Lorraine HansberryLorraine Hansberry (1930-1965) was a playwright and political activist who supported the emerging American lesbian liberation movement as a part of her fight for social justice.  
 
 
  Patricia HighsmithPatricia Highsmith (1921-1995) was an acclaimed mystery writer who wrote one explicitly lesbian novel, as well as the popular series featuring the amoral bisexual Tom Ripley.  
 
 
  Nella LarsenNella Larsen (1891-1964) was the first African American to receive a Guggenheim fellowship. Constrained by the social conventions of the time, the bisexual novelist was covert in her treatment of lesbianism.  
 
 
  Carson McCullersCarson McCullers (1917-1967) was a sexually ambiguous writer whose fiction offers uncomfortable resistance to the social ideal of neat heterosexuality.  
 
 
  Edna St. Vincent MillayEdna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950) was a poet and playwright who expressed her bisexuality in both her life and her work. Millay's position as a well-known poet who openly acknowledged her bisexuality well before Stonewall makes her an important figure in the history of glbtq American literature.
 
 
 
  Pulp Paperbacks and their CoversPulp Paperbacks with lesbian themes usually featured cover art that appeared to support stereotypes and stories that pathologized lesbian sexuality, but the American pulp novels of the 1950s and 1960s subverted the social and political prohibitions against homosexual expression during the McCarthy era.  
 
 
  Muriel Rukeyser (1913-1980) was a poet who broke the silence of many aspects of female experience including sex, menstruation, breast-feeding, mother-daughter relationships, and female aging. She has been enormously important to many feminist and lesbian readers.  
 
 
  May SartonMay Sarton (1912-1996), who gradually revealed her lesbianism in her writing, worked successfully in poetry, the novel, essays, and the journal.  
 
 
  Gertrude SteinGertrude Stein (1874-1946) in addition to becoming--with Alice B. Toklas--half of an iconic lesbian couple, was an important innovator and transformer of the English language.
 
 
 
  Sara Teasdale (1884-1933) was an early twentieth-century poet whose work reveals that the strongest emotional relationships in her life were with women.  
 
 
 

 
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