Lesbian Pulp Novels, 1935-1965

Room 26 Cabinet of Curiosities

WarpedView 25 illustrated book covers from the Beinecke Library’s collection

Lesbian Pulp Novels

By Anastasia Jones (PhD candidate, Yale Department of History)

Comprised of several hundred titles that sold, collectively, into the
millions, lesbian pulp fiction flourished between 1950 and 1965. The genre’s so-called Golden Age was but a small segment of the paperback phenomena that swept America during and after World War Two. Beginning with Pocket Books’ 1939 birth, paperback publishers capitalized on their established magazine distribution networks to sell pulp fiction on rotating racks in drugstores and gas stations around the country. The postwar paperback trade was, in some ways, an organic continuation of the pulp press—penny dreadfuls, comic books, and magazines of sensational serialized fiction—that had flourished fitfully from the turn of the century. Yet it is an error to read postwar paperbacks as merely derivative. Small enough to fit into a back pocket, these slim fictional…

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