Long overlooked, censored, or suppressed, literature by and about members of the LGBTQ+ community is currently experiencing tremendous popularity with readers and has become a major focus for scholars. This is true not only in North America but also throughout the world. Works by and about members of this community are now often best-sellers and are increasingly taught in schools at many levels, but especially in colleges and universities.
The tradition of LGBTQ+ writing goes back almost to the beginning of literature itself. Readers, for instance, have long seen signs of it in the Epic of Gilgamesh, in Homer’s Iliad, and even in the biblical story of David and Jonathan. The poems of Sappho of Lesbos, the island from which the term “lesbian” is derived, are universally considered some of the most beautiful lyrics ever composed in ancient Greece, while homoerotic themes also appear in works by Virgil, the greatest Roman poet. And, of course, readers and playgoers have long seen in Shakespeare’s poems and plays evidence of numerous LGBTQ+ characters and topics.
By the eighteenth century, the “love that dare not speak its name” was increasingly prominent, and by the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the floodgates had begun to open. In the last hundred years, LGBTQ+ literature has been written by thousands and read by millions.
Notable Writers of LGBTQ+ Literature is a collection with broad appeal. The range of entries for this two-volume set includes writers so varied that these books will interest a wide variety of readers, including:
- those with a keen interest in exploring the earliest roots and later branches of this tradition;
- those interested in the challenges writers in this tradition have long faced but have recently overcome;
- those interested in how LGBTQ+ writers have affected, and been affected by, broader, more conventional
literary canons; and
- those interested in the ways reviewers and scholars have responded to writers and writings in this relatively
new canon of literature.
This set is a collection of analytic, scholarly, encyclopedic essays about an increasingly vibrant and diverse literary tradition. It examines poems, plays, novels, and short fiction from ancient times to the present day. It explores the lives of relevant writers, the reception of relevant texts, and the history of the tradition as it has unfolded—slowly at first, and then more quickly—over the last four thousand years. It deals with the challenges (both literary and personal) writers in this tradition have faced as well as the ways those challenges were gradually diminished. It emphasizes the literary qualities of LGBTQ+ literature while also setting such literature in its social, historical, and cultural contexts.
Relevant writers include: Homer, Aphra Behn, Oscar Wilde, Virginia Woolf, Gore Vidal, Adrienne Rich, Sappho, John Cleland, A.E. Housman, Christopher Isherwood, James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, Virgil, Lord Byron, C.P. Cavafy, Mary Renault, Yukio Mishima, Tony Kushner, Richard Barnfield, Walt Whitman, Willa Cather, W.H. Auden, Edward Albee, William Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, E.M. Forster, Tennessee Williams, Katherin Philips, and more!
Each essay identifies relevant genres and biographical data. The set also includes a Chronological List of Authors; a Genre Index; a Personages Index; a Title Index; a Subject Index; and dozens of photographs. Designed to introduce readers at the high school and university levels to the rich world of LGBTQ+ literature, this set gives students access to careful research and resources so they can further explore this rich literary tradition.