Bannon, Ann 1932-
BANNON, Ann 1932-
PERSONAL: Born September, 1932 in Joliet, IL; separated; two daughters. Education: University of Illinois, B.A. (French), 1954; California State Univer sity—Sacramento, M.A.; Stanford University, Ph.D. (linguistics), 1975.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Ballantine Books, Fawcett Publishing, 1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036.
CAREER: California State University—Sacramento, professor and associate dean, 1974-97, program coordinator in liberal studies, 1985-97; author.
MEMBER: Phi Beta Kappa.
Odd Girl Out, Fawcett Publishing (New York, NY), 1957.
I Am a Woman, Fawcett Publishing (New York, NY), 1959.
Women in the Shadows, Fawcett Publishing (New York, NY), 1959.
Journey to a Woman, Fawcett Publishing (New York, NY), 1960.
Beebo Brinker, Fawcett Publishing (New York, NY), 1962.
SIDELIGHTS: Ann Bannon is the pseudonymous author of a series of five lesbian pulp novels published in the late 1950s and early 1960s. She is regarded by many in the gay community as the queen of lesbian pulp fiction. Her novels were published at a time before the gay rights movement existed, when there was relatively little lesbian material in print. At that time, pre-Stonewall, the books were generally marketed as male fantasy items. In an interview with Katherine Forrest in Lambda Report, Bannon explained that her early role models were lesbian fiction authors such as Claire Morgan, Vin Packer, and Tereska Torres. She read their books and decided that she wanted to do this too. Her first novel, Odd Girl Out, was published in 1957. The rough draft she took to her editor, Dick Gold, was promptly handed back to her with the admonition that she cut it by half and pursue the strong story line, which involved two women. She followed his advice and gave Gold a finished manuscript in just a few months' time. This was accepted, and the other four novels followed in rapid succession. Bannon has not published any novels since Beebo Brinker (1962), but told Forrest she did not reject the possibility of returning to lesbian fiction.
All five of Bannon's novels form a series that traces the growing sexual awareness of a core group of characters. The series begins with Odd Girl Out, a story of a lesbian relationship between two college roommates, Beth, older and vivacious, and Laura, a freshman and a person of retiring disposition. The story takes place in the 1950s, a time of restrictions and definite expectations for middle-class white women. Passion and secrecy abound and the story comes to a dramatic ending when Beth has a change of heart and marries her fiancée. I Am a Woman finds Laura in New York City, where she is introduced to the homosexual subculture by Jack, a gay man. She makes a life for herself and falls in love a few times before she meets Beebo Brinker, a young "butch" woman with whom she shares an apartment. Women in the Shadows sees the dissolution of Beebo and Laura's relationship and Laura's subsequent marriage to Jack. They have a child together by means of artificial insemination. Journey to a Woman reintroduces Beth to the story. Unhappily married and the mother of children, she flees her home and lands in New York City. She and Laura resume their old relationship, but it does not last. Instead, Beth forms a bond with Beebo. The final title in the series is Beebo Brinker.
Over the years critics have debated the merits of Bannon's series. Some have suggested that her books present lesbians in a negative light. Others point out that Bannon has written challengingly of gender identities and alternative family structures, and is valued for her candor. She is also recognized for early concerns with racism and domestic abuse.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Gay and Lesbian Biography, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1997, pp. 46-47.
American Book Review, July, 1984, Judith Schwartz, review of Odd Girl Out, I Am a Woman, Women in the Shadows, Journey to a Woman, and Beebo Brinker, pp. 11, 13.
Feminist Studies, fall, 1992, Michele Aina Barale, review of Beebo Brinker, pp. 533-549.
Lambda Book Report, February, 2002, Katherine V. Forrest, interview with Ann Bannon, p. 4.
Village Voice Literary Supplement, October, 1983, review of Odd Girl Out, I Am a Woman, Women in the Shadows, Journey to a Woman, and Beebo Brinker, pp. 8-9.
Women's Review of Books, June, 1984, Ellen Shapiro, review of Beebo Brinker, pp. 13-14.
Queer Theory.com,http://www.queertheory.com/ (July 24, 2003).
Seattle Weekly Onlinehttp://www.seattleweekly.com/ (July 24, 2003).*