Indomitable: The Life of Barbara Grier

Indomitable: The Life of Barbara Grier

by Joanne Passet


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“Whatever else will be said about her—and you can bet there will be plenty, because Barbara was no stranger to controversy—the one thing that is true above all else is that she was the most important person in lesbian publishing in the world. Without her boldness and her audacity, there might not be the robust lesbian publishing industry there is today.”
—Teresa DeCrescenzo

Barbara Grier—feminist, activist, publisher, and archivist—was many things to different people. Perhaps most well known as one of the founders of Naiad Press, Barbara’s unapologetic drive to make sure that lesbians everywhere had access to books with stories that reflected their lives in positive ways was legendary. Barbara changed the lives of thousands of women in her lifetime.

For the first time, historian Joanne Passet uncovers the controversial and often polarizing life of this firebrand editor and publisher with new and never before published letters, interviews, and other personal material from Grier’s own papers. Passet takes readers behind the scenes of The Ladder, offering a rare window onto the isolated and bereft lives lesbians experienced before the feminist movement and during the earliest days of gay political organizing. Through extensive letters between Grier and her friend novelist Jane Rule, Passet offers a virtual diary of this dramatic and repressive era. Passet also looks at Grier’s infamous “theft” of The Ladder’s mailing list, which in turn allowed her to launch and promote Naiad Press, the groundbreaking women’s publishing company she founded with partner Donna McBride in 1973. Naiad went on to become one of the leaders in gay and lesbian book publishing and for years helped sustain lesbian and feminist bookstores—and readers—across the country.

JOANNE PASSET is Professor of History Emerita at Indiana University East. Her previous books include Sex Variant Woman: The Life of Jeannette Howard Foster, Sex Radicals and the Quest for Women's Equality, Cultural Crusaders: Women Librarians in the American West, and Aspirations and Mentoring in an Academic Environment (with Mary Niles Maack).

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781594934711
Publisher: Bella Books
Publication date: 11/29/2016
Pages: 338
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Joanne Passet is Professor Emerita of History, Indiana University East. A former librarian, she is the author of Sex Variant Woman: The Life of Jeannette Howard Foster, Sex Radicals and the Quest for Women’s Equality, and Cultural Crusaders: Women Librarians in the American West.

Table of Contents

Prologue 1

Part I A Virtual Life

Chapter 1 Growing Up Gay with the Help of Literature 5

Chapter 2 Becoming Gene Damon 17

Chapter 3 The View from Kansas City 35

Chapter 4 Paper Romances and Pen Friendships 51

Chapter 5 The Original Paperback Novel 69

Part II A Movement Life

Chapter 6 Changing Times 81

Chapter 7 The Ladder: Theft or Liberation? 95

Chapter 8 Donna, A Whole New World 115

Chapter 9 The Birth of Naiad Press 127

Chapter 10 Building Naiad: A Personal and Business Challenge 145

Chapter 11 Naiad: A Flourishing Lesbian Press 165

Chapter 12 Lesbian Nuns: Breaking Silence 191

Part III An Entrepreneurial Life

Chapter 13 The Largest Lesbian Publishing Company in the World 209

Chapter 14 Transitions 229

Chapter 15 Loss of a Giant 245

Acknowledgments i

Timeline vii

Endnotes to Chapters xiii

Selected Bibliography lxxix

Index cci

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