Lesbian Pulp Fiction: The "Golden Age"

It is widely held that the golden age of lesbian pulp fiction began with the 1950 publication of Toreska Torres’s hugely popular novel Women’s Barracks. Published by Fawcett Gold Medal with a lurid cover that would soon typify the genre, the book quickly sold over four million copies in the U.S. alone, and went on to sell over 2.5 million copies around the world. Fawcett’s enormous success with Women’s Barracks and with Vin Packer’s 1952 novel, Spring Fire (which sold over 1.5 million copies), sparked a rush on the part of multiple publishers to publish lesbian themed fiction. This rush lasted until roughly 1965, when, with the loosening of obscenity laws, the genre was subsumed by a rapidly expanding pornography business. These novels, with their often sexually explicit covers, attracted both straight and LGBT audiences, and ultimately provided a venue where lesbian readers, who remained mostly invisible in 1950s popular culture, could access stories about themselves (Keller). About 400 of the titles in the Dworin Collection fall under the sub-genre of lesbian pulp fiction. These books, known for their explicit lesbian themes and provocative cover art, may be of research interest for faculty and students studying popular culture, women’s studies, sexual diversity studies and book history.

 

Keller, Yvonne. ""Was it Right to Love Her Brother's Wife so Passionately?": Lesbian Pulp Novels and U.S. Lesbian Identity, 1950-1965." American Quarterly 57.2 (2005): pp. 385-410. Print.

 

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