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Secret Historian

The Life and Times of Samuel Steward, Professor, Tattoo Artist, and Sexual Renegade
Spring, Justin, 1962- (Book - 2010 )
Average Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5.
Secret Historian
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Baker & Taylor
A dramatic account based on previously unseen journals and records reveals the mid-20th-century writer's hidden sexual life, marked by relationships with famous contemporaries and the identities he created as Phil Sparrow and Phil Andros to conduct his research.

McMillan Palgrave

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 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 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.


Baker
& Taylor

An account based on previously unseen journals and records reveals the mid-twentieth-century writer's hidden sexual life, marked by relationships with famous contemporaries and the identities he created as Phil Sparrow and Phil Andros to conduct his research.
Drawn from the secret diaries and journals of novelist, poet, and university professor Samuel M. Steward, this is a 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, documenting his experiences in vivid (and often very funny) detail. After leaving academe to become tattoo artist Phil Sparrow, Steward worked closely with Alfred Kinsey on his landmark sex research. During the early 1960s, Steward changed his identity once again, this time to write exceptionally literate, upbeat homosexual pornography as Phil Andros. An archive of his papers, lost since his death in 1993, has provided biographer Justin Spring with the material for an illuminating life-and-times biography. More than merely the story of one remarkable man, this is a moving portrait of gay life long before gay liberation.--From publisher description.

Authors: Spring, Justin, 1962-
Statement of Responsibility: Justin Spring
Title: Secret historian
the life and times of Samuel Steward, professor, tattoo artist, and sexual renegade
Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010
Edition: 1st ed
Characteristics: xv, 478 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references (p. [441]-456) and index
Subject Headings: Steward, Samuel M Authors, American 20th century Biography Poets, American 20th century Biography Novelists, American 20th century Biography Gay authors United States Biography College teachers Illinois Chicago Biography Tattoo artists New York (State) New York Biography Sexology Research United States History 20th century Pornography United States History 20th century
Topical Term: Authors, American
Poets, American
Novelists, American
Gay authors
College teachers
Tattoo artists
Sexology
Pornography
LCCN: 2009043086
ISBN: 9780374281342
0374281343
Branch Call Number: B Steward S
Research Call Number: JFE 10-5428
JFE 10-5428
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Jan 04, 2014
  • Bhulsey rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

A well written and fascinating biography about academic turned tattooist turned pulp porn author Samuel M. Steward/Phil Sparrow. The biography is partially based on Steward's secret, never-before-seen diaries, journals and sexual records and reads as a sensational reconstruction of his hidden sex life. Steward was an intimate friend of Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, and Thornton Wilder. He also considered Alfred Kinsey a mentor and worked closely with him on his landmark sex research. Don Ed Hardy along with other famous names from both the tattoo artist and the literature/arts realm make cameo appearances in the tapestry of Steward's life as well.

This was a tough read, mainly because Steward seemed so lonely and tortured. Though this biography wasn't written as a reader on LGBT history per se, I did like the way the author wove in pieces of history to provide context for Steward's life at the time. He lived in the shadows as a gay man before Stonewall and gay liberation. Everything he did was tied to sex and his understanding/acceptance of his own sexuality, "the H life," during a time when homosexuality was widely feared and reviled, and very often criminalized. The subject matter was fascinating, titillating even, but I found much of Steward's life heartbreaking. His self-destructive patterns and abject loneliness were difficult to read through, though that wouldn't prevent me from recommending this book to others.

"An account based on previously unseen journals and records reveals the mid-twentieth-century writer's hidden sexual life, marked by relationships with famous contemporaries and the identities he created as Phil Sparrow and Phil Andros to conduct his research." Biography and Memoir October 2013 newsletter http://www.nextreads.com/Display2.aspx?SID=5acc8fc1-4e91-4ebe-906d-f8fc5e82a8e0&N=688879

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Version pocillo (pocillo) Last updated 2014/08/21 13:32