The Violet Quill
The Violet Quill (or the Violet Quill Club) was a group of seven gay male writers that met in 1980 and 1981 in New York City to read from their writings to each other and to critique them. This group and the writers epitomize the years between the Stonewall Riots and the beginning of the AIDS pandemic.
What made this group important was that several of its members became some of the most important Post-Stonewall gay writers in America, and the group includes writers and works that have been linked to gay writing as a literary movement. Edmund White and Andrew Holleran in particular stand out.
The seven writers are: Edmund White (b. 1940), Andrew Holleran (b. 1944), Robert Ferro (1941-1988), Felice Picano (b. 1944), George Whitmore (1946-1989), Michael Grumley (1942-1988), and Christopher Cox (1949-1990). AIDS claimed the lives of four of these writers between 1988 and 1990, leaving three alive.
Felice Picano recalls that the group started because straight editors, agents, and fellow writers weren't being helpful with advice on gay themed writing.
Gay fiction before the Violet Quill was of four classes. The first two were primarily or ostensibly for straight audiences where the gay characters are either minor to the main theme, or in which they live tragic lives and then died. The third was those of high literary vales and were therefore valued by critics. The fourth was gay pornography.
The AIDS sea change not only resulted in the death of many members of the gay community, but forever changed gay literature, including gay fiction.
Selected works by the members of The Violet Quill
- Andrew Holleran - Dancer from the Dance (1978)
- Edmund White - A Boy's Own Story (1982)
- Robert Ferro - The Family of Max Desir (1983)
- Felice Picano - An Asian Minor (1981)
- George Whitmore - The Confessions of Danny Slocum (1980)
- Michael Grumley - After Midnight (1978)
- Christopher Cox - A Key West Companion (1983)
- Picano, Felice (2007). Art and sex in Greenwich Village : gay literary life after Stonewall. New York: Carroll and Graf. ISBN 0-7867-1813-7.
- Bergman, David (editor) (1994). The Violet Quill Reader: The Emergence of Gay Writing After Stonewall. New York: St. Martin's Press. p. ages xi-xiii. ISBN 978-0-312-11091-8.
- Summers, Claude J. "The Violet Quill". The GLBTQ encyclopedia.
- Bergman, David (2004). The Violet Hour: The Violet Quill and the Making of Gay Culture. Columbia University Press. p. age 1. ISBN 978-0-231-13050-9.
- Brozan, Nadine (1994). "CHRONICLE". The New York Times. Published:May 9, 1994. Short piece on Felice Picano reading and reference to The Violet Quill.