This is the only non-fiction post in the Great November Book Release Re-Boot: a biography of Barbara Grier, one of the founders of Naiad Press and a long-time lesbian activist. Indomitable: The Life of Barbara Grier by historian Joanne Passett chronicles her complex and jam-packed life.
Barbara Grier—feminist, activist, publisher, and archivist—was many things to different people. Perhaps most well known as one of the founders of Naiad Press, Barbara’s unapologetic drive to make sure that lesbians everywhere had access to books with stories that reflected their lives in positive ways was legendary. Barbara changed the lives of thousands of women in her lifetime.
For the first time, historian Joanne Passet uncovers the controversial and often polarizing life of this firebrand editor and publisher with new and never before published letters, interviews, and other personal material from Grier’s own papers. Passet takes readers behind the scenes of The Ladder, offering a rare window onto the isolated and bereft lives lesbians experienced before the feminist movement and during the earliest days of gay political organizing. Through extensive letters between Grier and her friend novelist Jane Rule, Passet offers a virtual diary of this dramatic and repressive era. Passet also looks at Grier’s infamous “theft” of The Ladder’s mailing list, which in turn allowed her to launch and promote Naiad Press, the groundbreaking women’s publishing company she founded with partner Donna McBride in 1973. Naiad went on to become one of the leaders in gay and lesbian book publishing and for years helped sustain lesbian and feminist bookstores—and readers—across the country.
Back when I started reading lesbian fiction in the 1980s, Naiad Press was one of the few companies publishing it, possibly the only one exclusively focusing on lesbian stories. Bella Books is something of a loosely-connected heir to Naiad, having picked up their inventory and continuing to publish many of their authors when the Naiad proprietors wanted to retire. That history was one of the reasons that Bella was at the top of my list when I was ready to submit Daughter of Mystery to publishers. As it happened, I didn't need to work further down the list. My most recent novel, Mother of Souls carries the heritage of a pubishing line that first and foremost supports the right of fictional women to love other fictional women, without apology or flinching.
The Great November Book Release Re-Boot is a blog series talking about November 2016 releases that may have been overshadowed by unfortunate political events.