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Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward, Professor, Tattoo Artist, and Sexual Renegade


Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward, Professor, Tattoo Artist, and Sexual Renegade Cover

ISBN13: 9780374533021
ISBN10: 0374533024
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Publisher Comments:

Drawn from the secret, never-before-seen diaries, journals, and sexual records of the novelist, poet, and university professor Samuel M. Steward, Secret Historian is a sensational reconstruction of one of the more extraordinary hidden lives of the twentieth century. An intimate friend of Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, and Thornton Wilder, Steward maintained a secret sex life from childhood on, and documented these experiences in brilliantly vivid (and often very funny) detail.

After leaving the world of academe to become Phil Sparrow, a tattoo artist on Chicagos notorious South State Street, Steward worked closely with Alfred Kinsey on his landmark sex research. During the early 1960s, Steward changed his name and identity once again, this time to write exceptionally literate, upbeat pro-homosexual pornography under the name of Phil Andros.

Until today he has been known only as Phil Sparrow—but an extraordinary archive of his papers, lost since his death in 1993, has provided Justin Spring with the material for an exceptionally compassionate and brilliantly illuminating life-and-times biography. More than merely the story of one remarkable man, Secret Historian is a moving portrait of homosexual life long before Stonewall and gay liberation.

Secret Historian is a 2010 National Book Award Finalist for Nonfiction.

About the Author

Justin Spring is a writer specializing in twentieth-century American art and culture, and the author of many monographs, catalogs, museum publications, and books, including Fairfield Porter: A Life in Art and Paul Cadmus: The Male Nude.

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Robert Whitehead, January 3, 2012 (view all comments by Robert Whitehead)
Justin Spring, you wonderful man! Thank you for writing a gay man's story that is at once life-affirming and troubled, both immensely hilarious and pleasurable to read and so deeply sad, so intimately rendered. This is the fullest portrayal of a gay man's life in an era routinely forgotten. This is a human story with so much heart and so much at stake.
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Product Details

Spring, Justin
Farrar Straus Giroux
Artists, Architects, Photographers
Gay Studies
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
16 Pages of Black-and-White Illustration
8.25 x 5.5 in

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Art » Sale Books
Arts and Entertainment » Drama » Featured Titles
Biography » Artists, Architects, and Photographers
Biography » Gay and Lesbian
Gay and Lesbian » Fiction and Poetry » General
Gay and Lesbian » History and Social Science » History and Biographies
History and Social Science » Gender Studies » Gay Studies
History and Social Science » Sale Books

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