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Encyclopedia > Ann Bannon

Ann Bannon (pseudonym of Ann Weldy) wrote a series of six lesbian pulp fiction books from 1957 to 1962 known as The Beebo Brinker Chronicles. Her first in the series, Odd Girl Out was the second best-selling paperback of 1957. Bannon was 22 when she began writing her first pulp fiction novel. She was newly graduated and freshly married and on her way to having two children. In her spare time, she began to write. A pseudonym (Greek: false name) is a fictitious name used by an individual as an alternative to his or her legal name. ... Cover to 1959 lesbian pulp fiction novel The Third Sex, by Artemis Smith. ...

Contents


The Beebo Brinker Chronicles and their context

Odd Girl Out was published by Gold Medal Books in 1957. The plot involves a lesbian relationship between two sorority sisters in a fictional sorority at a fictional midwestern university. As was custom with pulp fiction novels, neither the cover art nor the title was under the control of the author. Both were approved by the publisher in order to be as suggestive and lurid as possible. The characters in Odd Girl Out were Laura, the younger and more naive pledge who becomes infatuated with Beth, a more experienced and charismatic leader in the sorority.


Bannon was influenced by Vin Packer's Spring Fire from 1952. The genre of lesbian pulp fiction was just growing at this time and it was the trend in any novel that involved lesbianism that the characters would never receive any satisfaction from the relationship. One or both usually ended up committing suicide, going insane, or leaving the relationship. Although the ending to Odd Girl Out didn't veer too far from this unsatisfactory resolution, it did recogize that one of the characters realized she was a lesbian and embraced it, which was quite new to lesbian fiction.

Bannon followed up Odd Girl Out with I Am A Woman (In Love With A Woman Why Must Society Reject Me?) in 1959. I Am A Woman (the working and common title) joined Laura after her affair with Beth as she found herself in New York City's Greenwich Village, navigating new experiences such as a new job, a new apartment, a beautiful new roommate named Marcie, a new closeted gay friend named Jack, and a fascinating new character, Beebo Brinker, who came to embody the description of a quintessential and thoroughly butch lesbian. Beebo was smart, handsome, chivalrous, and virile. Laura's conflict involved choosing between Beebo, straight-and-smarter-(and more calculating)-than-she-looks Marcie, and a rocky relationship with her father. The resolution to I Am A Woman completely flouted the trends of miserable lesbian fiction endings, which made Ann Bannon a hero to lesbians and bisexual women across the nation.

Following I Am A Woman, Bannon's third book reflected the conflicts she was experiencing in her own marriage. Women In The Shadows, also in 1959, proved very unpopular with Bannon's readers. Once more we find Laura and Beebo in a very rocky relationship worsened by alcohol, jealousy, and affairs. It was a complex book even for pulp fiction that blurred lines between heroines and villains. Laura ends up marrying her best friend Jack, who is also gay, and Bannon illustrated the mind-boggling details of the relationships of people who were gay in the 1950s and the lengths they went to in order to "pass" as heterosexual and live some semblance of what was considered a normal life at the time. The 1950s was the decade spanning the years 1950 to 1959. ... The examples and perspective in this article or section may not represent a worldwide view. ... Heterosexuality is a sexual orientation characterized by esthetic attraction, romantic love or sexual desire exclusively for members of the opposite sex or gender, contrasted with homosexuality and distinguished from bisexuality and asexuality. ...


With Bannon's fourth book in the series, Journey To A Woman in 1960, Laura and Beebo are again main characters, but it is now six years after Laura's marriage, and she and Jack have a child. Six years later also has Beth, from Odd Girl Out, questioning her marriage and going to New York to find Laura again, and to escape a deranged woman who has a fixation on her.


A fifth book, The Marriage, in 1960 chronicled Laura and Jack's difficult marriage. This book has not been reissued or reprinted.


The last book in the series, Beebo Brinker in 1962 was Bannon's prequel to Odd Girl Out. It follows Beebo around Greenwich Village ten years prior to her meeting Laura in I Am A Woman, as Beebo literally gets off the bus from her rural hometown into New York City and navigates her way around the city and its gay bars. She begins an affair with a famous and fading movie star, follows her to California, and realizes her worth as a person.


Post-1960s

Ann Bannon's books, after initial publication began to fade away from publishing memory, espcially after Gold Medal Books went out of business. Then, in 1983, lesbian publishing company Naiad Press, reissued the books in new covers. Bannon, now a divorced professor of English at Sacramento State University, was shocked to find out that her characters were not only remembered, but that they were archetypes among the lesbian community. References to her characters began to show up in poems and songs. Greenwich Village had long since became a place that thousands of lesbians recognized as a place they could go to be comfortable.


Five of the Beebo Brinker Chronicles were reissued by Cleis Press again in 2001 (excluding The Marriage) with autobiographical forewords that described Bannon's experiences of writing the books and her reaction to their popularity, causing another wave of interest in the books. Ann Bannon has since retired, but tours the country visiting paperback-collecting conventions and speaking at colleges and universities about her writings and experiences.

Image:Shadows2002.jpg

Currently Bannon is a frequent guest of National Public Radio’s Peabody Award-winning talk show “Fresh Air” with Terry Gross. She is also featured in Gross’ recent book, All I Did Was Ask, a collection of transcripts from the show. She also speaks at gay-themed events around the country. Image File history File links BB2001. ... Fresh Air is a radio show broadcast on National Public Radio stations across the United States each week. ... All I Did Was Ask, by Terry Gross Terry Gross (born 1951) is the host and co-executive producer of Fresh Air, an interview-format radio show produced by WHYY-FM in Philadelphia and distributed throughout the United States by National Public Radio. ...


Bannon completed her master’s degree at Sacramento State University and her doctorate in linguistics at Stanford University. She was an English professor for Sacramento State and later became the University’s associate dean of the School of Arts and Sciences and later the College of Arts and Letters. Bannon is the recipient of the Sacramento State Alumni Association’s Distinguished Faculty Award for 2005. California State University, Sacramento, better known as Sacramento State, Sac State, or CSUS, is a public university located in the city of Sacramento, California. ... Stanford redirects here. ...


External links

Sources

  • Odd Girl Out by Ann Bannon 1957, 2001
  • I Am A Woman by Ann Bannon 1959, 2002
  • Women In The Shadows by Ann Bannon 1959, 2002
  • Journey To A Woman by Ann Bannon 1960, 2003
  • Beebo Brinker by Ann Bannon, 1962
  • www.annbannon.com

 
 

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