This is the true-life story of what happens when scores of young girls live intimately together in a French military barracks. Many of these girls, utterly innocent and inexperienced, meet other women who have lived every type of existence. Their problems, their temptations, their fights and failures are those faced by all women who are forced to live together during dangerous and stressful times. The girls who chose Tereska Torres, the author, as their confidante poured out to her their most intimate feelings, ...
This is the true-life story of what happens when scores of young girls live intimately together in a French military barracks. Many of these girls, utterly innocent and inexperienced, meet other women who have lived every type of existence. Their problems, their temptations, their fights and failures are those faced by all women who are forced to live together during dangerous and stressful times. The girls who chose Tereska Torres, the author, as their confidante poured out to her their most intimate feelings, their secret thoughts. With all of its revelations and tenderness, Women’s Barracks is an important book because it tells a story that had never been truly told before—the story of women in war. It also has the special distinction of being the first “lesbian pulp” novel ever published and became a record-breaking bestseller.
Women’s Barracks is one of the rare books written by an author who lived with the girls and women in this autobiographical novel that takes place in London, England during World War II. The terror of the V-1 and V-2 rocket bombings, and the resulting fires and destruction, are an unknown experience to most readers. The women enduring these events were not even twenty years old when they first arrived. Many volunteered to be there. They were French, or of French heritage, and wanted to be part of the effort to help protect France from invasion by the Nazis. Throughout it all, passions flare, long-standing taboos are tossed to the wind, and passionate relationships are begun between older, more experienced butch officers and the young, inexperienced femme girls under their charge.
In her telling of these women’s stories, Torres remains nonjudgmental of the lesbian relationships these women explored. Perhaps as a result, Women’s Barracks was banned in several states for being obscene. The House Select Committee on Current Pornographic Materials denounced the book in 1952 as an illustration of how the newly emerging paperback industry was breeding and promoting moral depravity. By today’s standards, of course, the book is somewhat tame; however, the eroticism and honesty with which Torres writes immerses the reader in the love, tenderness, loyalty and passion that women share with each other.
In the early 1950s new sub-genres of the vintage paperback pulp novel industry emerged—science fiction, juvenile delinquent, sleaze, and lesbian fiction, for instance—that would tantalize readers with gritty, realistic and lurid stories never seen before. Mysteries, thrillers and hardboiled detective pulps were already selling quite well. Publishers had come to realize, however, that sex would sell even more copies. In a competitive frenzy for readers, they tossed away their staid and straightforward cover images for alluring covers that frequently featured a sexy woman in some form of undress, along with a suggestive tag line that promised stories of sex and violence within the covers. Before long, books with these sensational covers had completely taken over the paperback racks and cash registers. To this day, the "good girl art" (GGA) cover art of these vintage paperback books are just as sought after as the books themselves were sixty years ago.
With the birth of the lesbian-themed pulp novel, women who loved women would finally see themselves—their experiences and their lives—represented within the pages of a book. They finally had a literature they could call their own. For lesbians across the country, especially those living in small towns, these books provided a sense of community they never knew existed, a connection to women who experienced the same longings, feelings and fears as they did—the powerful knowledge that they were not alone. We are excited to make these lesbian pulp novels available in ebook format to new generations of readers.