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 20th 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 Chicago’s 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 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.
Justin Spring is a writer specializing in 20th-century American art and culture and is the author of many monographs, catalogs, museum publications, and books, including Fairfield Porter: A Life in Art and Paul Cadmus: The Male Nude.
“Astonishing….The probity and expansive vision of Spring’s work is a reminder that a great, outspread terrain of gay history remains to be mapped.” (New York Times Book Review)
“Jaw-dropping…. Reads like a novel probing a lifelong rebel’s courage, creativity, and ultimate sadness.” (San Francisco Chronicle)
“This is a rich and exuberant biography of a man who deserves to be better known.” (The Economist)
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Stark, Revealing, Honest, Sad
Very Revealing and Secretive Indeed
First and foremost, its content, which has been very under-chronicled. Secondly, the narrator, who has has a very clear voice, and speaks at a good speed. He sounds educated and a bit literary. All good points.
Samuel himself for being such a magical child and adult. The big cheese in the Chicago homo wrestling scene (I forget his name now), Alice B Tolkas and more.
Sorry to say that I haven't