Long before the rise of the modern gay movement, an unnoticed literary revolution was occurring between the covers of the cheaply produced lesbian pulp paperbacks of the postWorld War II era. In 1950, publisher Fawcett Books founded its Gold Medal imprint, inaugurating the reign of lesbian pulp fiction. These were the books that small-town lesbians and prurient men bought by the millions — cheap, easy to find in drugstores, and immediately recognizable by their lurid covers: often a hard-looking brunette standing over a scantily clad blonde, or a man gazing in tormented lust at a lovely, unobtainable lesbian.
For women leading straight lives, here was confirmation that they were not alone and that darkly glamorous, "gay" places like Greenwich Village existed. Some — especially those written by lesbians — offered sympathetic and realistic depictions of "life in the shadows," while others (no less fun to read now) were smutty, sensational tales of innocent girls led astray. In the overheated prose typical of the genre, this collection documents the emergence of a lesbian subculture in postwar America. Grande dame of lesbian literature Katherine V. Forrest presents a rich survey of the best of the pulps, including work by Ann Bannon, Vin Packer, Marion Zimmer Bradley (writing as Miriam Gardner), and many others.