LGBT History Month profile: Ann Bannon, popular lesbian-theme fiction author

LGBT History Month profile: Ann Bannon, popular lesbian-theme fiction author

Ann Bannon, Author
b. September 15, 1932

“We wrote the stories no one else could tell.”

Ann Bannon is an author best known for her lesbian-themed fiction series, “The Beebo Brinker Chronicles.” The popularity of the novels earned her the title “The Queen of Lesbian Pulp Fiction.”

Ann Bannon
Photo by Jason Ganwich

In 1954, Bannon graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in French. During her college years she was influenced by the lesbian novels “The Well of Loneliness,” by Radclyffe Hall, and “Spring Fire,” by Vin Packer.

At 24, Bannon published her first novel, “Odd Girl Out.” Born Ann Weldy, she adopted the pen name Ann Bannon because she did not want to be associated with lesbian pulps. Although she was married to a man, she secretly spent weekends in Greenwich Village exploring the lesbian nightlife.

Between 1957 and 1962, she wrote “I Am A Woman,” “Women in the Shadows,” “Journey to a Woman” and “Beebo Brinker.” Together they constitute the “The Beebo Brinker Chronicles.”

The series centers on young lesbians living in Greenwich Village and is noted for its accurate and sympathetic portrayal of gay and lesbian life. “We were exploring a corner of the human spirit that few others were writing about, or ever had,” said Bannon, “And we were doing it in a time and place where our needs and hopes were frankly illegal.” In 1980, when her books were reprinted, she claimed authorship of the novels.

In 2004, “The Beebo Brinker Chronicles” was adapted into a successful stage play. The play won numerous awards, including a GLAAD Media Award, and has been performed nationwide.

Following the success of her novels, Bannon earned a doctorate degree in linguistics from Stanford University. She was a professor and later an associate dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at Sacramento State University.

Bannon lives in California and tours colleges and universities, speaking about her writing and life experiences.

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