Trailblazing lesbian author Marijane Meaker dies at age 95


Marijane Meaker Spring Fire
Images: Facebook

Trailblazing lesbian author Marijane Meaker has died at age 95.

Using a number of pen names, Meaker wrote prolifically about lesbian relationships.

In 1952, Meaker published Spring Fire under the name Vin Packer. Based on her own experiences at an all-girls boarding house, Spring Fire is considered one of the first significant works of lesbian pulp fiction.

A bestseller, it has been estimated that Spring Fire sold 1.5 million copies.

In a statement to the New York Times, Ann Bannon, who followed Meaker into the lesbian pulp fiction genre spoke of the book’s impact.

“Meaker had in fact founded a new genre, lesbian pulp fiction, which was to become for a stretch of about 15 years wildly successful, and a moneymaker,” she said.

“It was finding fans among both sexes, and coast to coast, pushing same-sex romance into conversational orbit for the first time in history.”

The enduring legacy of ‘Spring Fire’

Despite the book’s success, the ending of Spring Fire reportedly never sat well with Meaker.

At the time, the US Postal Service would confiscate any books thought of as “immoral”.

For novels with LGBTQIA storylines, it meant that the books must contain unhappy endings.

In Spring Fire, this saw one of the women end up in an asylum and the other becoming straight.

Despite this, Spring Fire resonated with audiences as one of the first novels that depicted a lesbian relationship.

Meaker also wrote queer nonfiction under the name Ann Aldrich, including We, Too, Must Love and Take a Lesbian to Lunch.

In 2003, under her own name, she wrote Highsmith: A Romance of the 1950s, a memoir of her two-year affair with writer Patricia Highsmith, author of Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr. Ripley.

Meaker also figures prominently in the recently released documentary Loving Highsmith.

Taking to social media, fans spoke of the enduring impact of Meaker’s work.

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Sarah Davison
Sarah Davison

After working in print and radio, Sarah has joined the team at QNews to expand their coverage into South Australia. Sarah has a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology, and a Masters in Journalism, Media, and Communications. Get in touch: sarah@qnews.com.au

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