Armistead Maupin

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Armistead Maupin
Maupin with husband Christopher Turner in May 2013
Born Armistead Jones Maupin, Jr.
(1944-05-13) May 13, 1944 (age 70)
Washington, D.C., United States
Occupation Author
Citizenship American
Alma mater University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Notable work(s) Tales of the City
Spouse(s) Christopher Turner (2007–present)

Armistead Jones Maupin, Jr.[citation needed][1] (born May 13, 1944)[2][3] is an American writer, best known for his Tales of the City series of novels, set in San Francisco.

Early life[edit]

Maupin was born in Washington, D.C., to Diana Jane (Barton) and Armistead Jones Maupin.[4] Soon afterwards, his family moved to North Carolina, where he was raised.[5] He says he has had storytelling instincts since he was eight years old.[6] He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he became involved in journalism through writing for The Daily Tar Heel.[7] After earning his undergraduate degree, Maupin enrolled in law school, but later resigned from it.


Maupin worked at WRAL-TV (Channel 5) in Raleigh, a station then managed by future U.S. Senator Jesse Helms. Helms nominated Maupin for a patriotic award, which he won. Maupin says he was a typical conservative and even a segregationist at this time and admired Helms, a family friend, as a "hero figure." He later changed his opinions dramatically — "I've changed and he hasn't" — and condemned Helms at a gay pride parade on the steps of the North Carolina State Capitol.[5][6][7] Maupin is a veteran of the United States Navy; he served several tours of duty including one in Vietnam during the Vietnam War.

Maupin's work on a Charleston newspaper was followed with an offer of a position at the San Francisco bureau of the Associated Press in 1971.[8][9] He says he had known he was gay since childhood,[6][7] but didn't have sex until he was 26 and only decided to come out in 1974 when he was about 30.[5][10][11][12] The same year, he began what would become the Tales of the City series as a serial in a Marin County-based newspaper, the Pacific Sun, moving to the San Francisco Chronicle after the Sun's San Francisco edition folded.[13]


Maupin at the 47th Emmy Awards, 1994

Tales of the City[edit]

Main article: Tales of the City

Tales of the City is a series of novels, the first portions of which were published initially as a newspaper serial starting on August 8, 1974, in a Marin County newspaper, The Pacific Sun, picked up in 1976 by the San Francisco Chronicle, and later reworked into the series of books published by HarperCollins (then Harper and Row). The first of Maupin's novels, entitled Tales of the City, was published in 1978. Five more followed in the 1980s, ending with the last book, Sure of You, in 1989.[13] A seventh novel published in 2007, Michael Tolliver Lives, continues the story of some of the characters. It was followed by an eighth volume, Mary Ann in Autumn, published in 2010 and a ninth and final volume, The Days of Anna Madrigal, in 2014.[14] In Babycakes, published in 1983, Maupin was one of the first writers to address the subject of AIDS.[12] Of the autobiographical nature of the characters, he says "I’ve always been all of the characters in one way or another."[15]

The Tales of the City books have been translated into ten languages, and there are more than six million copies in print.

Television miniseries[edit]

The first three books in the series have also been adapted into three television miniseries starring Olympia Dukakis and Laura Linney. The first airing was on the American publicly funded television network PBS; subsequent miniseries appeared on the American cable television channel Showtime.[16]

Musical projects[edit]

He collaborated on Anna Madrigal Remembers, a musical work written by Jake Heggie and performed by choir Chanticleer and mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade on August 6, 1999, for which Maupin provided a new libretto. He also participated in a concert series with the Seattle Men's Chorus entitled Tunes From Tales (Music for Mouse), which included readings from his books and music from the era.[17]

In April 2010, it was announced that a theatrical musical version of Tales of the City would debut in May 2011. The musical has a score and lyrics by Jake Shears and John Garden of the rock band Scissor Sisters, and a book by Jeff Whitty. It will be directed by Jason Moore.[18]

Maybe the Moon and The Night Listener[edit]

Maupin has written two novels, Maybe The Moon and The Night Listener, which are not part of the Tales canon, though both books occasionally glance in that direction.

Maybe The Moon is a story Maupin describes as 'partly autobiographical', despite the main character being a female heterosexual Jewish dwarf. The character was also based on his friend Tamara De Treaux, who played the title character in the 1982 film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial[19][20]

The Night Listener is a roman à clef, inspired by Maupin's experiences concerning the Anthony Godby Johnson hoax.[21][22][23][24] He says that he wanted to create a psychological thriller, while being able to put autobiographical elements in it.[6] The issues he addresses include the ending of his relationship with his long-term partner and his relationship with his father. The book very lightly references the Tales world via Gabriel Noone's assistant, who is one of DeDe Halcyon-Day's twins from Tales. It was serialized on the internet, on, prior to its print publication.[6] The Night Listener was adapted into a movie that was screened at the Sundance Film Festival in late January 2006 and released by Miramax the following August.[21]

Michael Tolliver Lives[edit]

Prior to the 2007 release of Michael Tolliver Lives, Maupin had been quoted on his website as saying that another Tales of the City novel was unlikely.[25] Although Maupin originally stated that this novel was "NOT a sequel to Tales [of the City] and it's certainly not Book 7 in the series,"[26] he later conceded that "I’ve stopped denying that this is book seven in Tales of the City, as it clearly is ... I suppose I didn’t want people to be thrown by the change in the format, as this is a first person novel unlike the third person format of the Tales of the City books and it’s about one character who interrelates with other characters. Having said that, it is still very much a continuation of the saga and I think I realised it was very much time for me to come back to this territory."[27]

The novel is written from the first-person perspective of Tales character Michael 'Mouse' Tolliver, now in his fifties and living as an HIV-positive man.[28] It also features appearances by familiar Tales characters, such as Anna Madrigal.[29] Maupin said: "I was interested in pursuing the life of an aging gay man, and Michael was the perfect vehicle ... However, as soon as I started writing, I found that, one by one, all the other characters stepped forward and asked to be present. It felt natural, so I went with it."[12] He calls it "a smaller, more personal novel than I've written in the past."[28] The book was released on June 12, 2007, declared 'Michael Tolliver Day' by the mayor of San Francisco.[30][31]

His next project is another Tales volume: "Whatever I have to offer seems to come through those characters ... And I see no reason to abandon them."[12]

Mary Ann in Autumn was published November 12, 2010 by Harper/HarperCollins, continuing the series. It was reviewed by Joseph Salvatore in the New York Times Sunday Book Reviews on November 14.[32]

In December 2011 Maupin confirmed that he was working on a further Tales of the City novel, The Days of Anna Madrigal[33]

Personal life[edit]

Maupin's former life partner of 12 years, Terry Anderson, was once a gay rights activist (Maupin himself has done much of that sort of work),[34][35] and co-authored the screenplay for The Night Listener. He lived with Anderson in San Francisco and New Zealand.[36] Ian McKellen is a friend and Christopher Isherwood was a mentor, friend, and influence as a writer.[37][38]

Maupin is married to Christopher Turner, a website producer and photographer whom he saw on a dating website. He then "chased him down Castro Street, saying, 'Didn’t I see you on'"[21][39] Maupin and Turner were married in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, on February 18, 2007, though Maupin says that they had called each other "husband" for two years prior.[15]

He enjoys doing public readings of his own works and has recorded them all as audiobooks.[40] Maupin shares a grandfather with English singer Sarah Jane Morris[6][41]

In 2012 Maupin purchased the home of shoe designers Lynne and Dennis Comeau in Tesuque, New Mexico.[42]

On being a 'gay writer'[edit]

Armistead Maupin (left) and his husband Christopher Turner at the Sundance Film Festival, 2006
One of the things that I saw different about what I was doing was that I was allowing a little air into the situation by actually placing gay people in the context of the world at large. Most gay fiction that I was reading when I was coming out in the early 70s made me claustrophobic because it only dealt with the life of the gay bar and everybody in it was gay. Often gay and male and there weren't even any lesbians in the picture. That didn't make me feel the way I wanted to feel about life and it didn't correspond with the life that I was living in San Francisco which was wonderfully mixed up in terms of the people that came and went in my life and that was part of the enormous exhilaration of it. It felt revolutionary.
— Armistead Maupin[6]
I've always been proud of the fact that I've been openly gay longer than just about anybody writing today [...] but I never intended for that declaration to mean that I was narrowing my focus in any way, or joining a niche [...] now publishing has decided there's money in this, or at least a market [...] now a formalised thing has sprung up which I think is extremely detrimental to anybody beginning to write today. [...] It's possible to write a novel now which has gay themes, which has any truth you want to speak, that can be sold to a mainstream publisher and sold in a mainstream bookstore, so the notion of people who've narrowed their focus to only write books for a gay audience for gay people about gay people is stifling to me; in some ways, it's another form of the closet, as far as I'm concerned. I think Jerry Falwell must be very happy with those little cubby-holes at the back of book stores that say 'gay and lesbian' – it's a warning sign, they can keep their kids away from that section. I'd like people to stumble on my works in the literature section of Barnes & Noble and have their lives changed because of it.

It's complicated. I don't want to feel any less queer, but I think for us to march along in a dutiful little herd called 'gay and lesbian literature' and have little seminars that we hold together is pointless at this point, it makes no sense to me at all. [...] I cringe when I get 'gay writer' each time. Why the modifier? I'm a writer. It's like calling Amy Tan a Chinese-American writer every time you mention her name, or Alice Walker a black writer. We're all discussing the human condition. Some of us have revolutionised writing by bringing in subject-matter that nobody's heard about before. But we don't want that to narrow the definition of who we are as an artist. [...] I don't mind being cross-shelved. I'm very proud of being in the gay and lesbian section, but I don't want to be told that I can't sit up in the front of the book store with the straight, white writers.

— Armistead Maupin[6]


Tales of the City[edit]

Other novels[edit]



  1. ^ Pronounced "Mawpin' as read in English, rather than rhyming with the French "Gauguin." "Armistead Maupin" is an anagram of 'Is a Man I Dreamt Up.' (Armistead Maupin Is a Man I Dreamt Up was the title of a 1990 BBC documentary on him.) However, neither the name nor Maupin himself were actually invented. He recalls: "One person even wrote: 'I know for a fact that you don't exist. You're really a lesbian collective in Marin County.' (Sometimes I feel like a lesbian collective in Marin County, but I'm not.)" See: Oft Asked Questions.
  2. ^ "Armistead Maupin Bio". IMDb. Retrieved 3 December 2013. 
  3. ^ "Armistead Maupin Biography". Retrieved 3 December 2013. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b c 'Growing up Gay in old Raleigh – in The Independent of Raleigh, North Carolina, June 1988 – autobiographical memoir
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h Armistead Maupin (October 24, 2000). (.RAM). Interview with Bill Goldstein. New York Times Archived from the original on July 5, 2007.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ a b c A Conversation with Author Armistead Maupin – on KUOW-FM radio, 2007-06-19
  8. ^ My First Glimpse of The City – in Guest Informant, 1998–1999. Maupin recalls his first experiences of San Francisco.
  9. ^ He has said of San Francisco that he had "no sense of it being a gay mecca" and has called it "this amazing city that embraced me, that had made me aware of my true self", and has said "what really floored me was that the straight folks in San Francisco were so civilised about homosexuality." (in the New York Times interview)
  10. ^ For Armistead Maupin, There Are Still Tales to Tell – Interview in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He agreed to be identified as a homosexual in a "Ten Most Eligible Bachelors" article in San Francisco magazine.
  11. ^ Letter to Mama – Michael Tolliver's coming out letter, a response in the book to his parents' participation in Anita Bryant's anti-gay Save Our Children campaign. Maupin used the letter to serve the same purpose for his own parents, who followed the Tales serial.
  12. ^ a b c d "Tolliver's Travels"Entertainment Weekly, June 7, 2007
  13. ^ a b "''Tales of the City'' graphic timeline". May 15, 2006. 
  14. ^ Charles Isherwood (30 January 2014). "Saying Goodbye to a City and Its Characters: ‘The Days of Anna Madrigal,’ Concluding ‘Tales of the City’". The New York Times, Books of the Times. Retrieved 13 February 2014. 
  15. ^ a b Scott, Kemble (April 23, 2007). "Armistead Maupin’s Family Ties". Publishers Weekly. Archived from the original on April 29, 2007. [dead link]
  16. ^ A Tale of the Seventies TV Guide, January 1994. Article by Maupin about the difficult process of getting the Tales series into TV production.
  17. ^ "Seattle Men's Chorus welcomes Armistead Maupin to Benaroya Hall". October 6, 2003. 
  18. ^ Healy, Patrick (April 3, 2010). "Debut Is Announced for ‘Tales of the City'". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-04-25. 
  19. ^ Behind the scenes: THE OUTSIDERSan Francisco Focus Magazine], October 1992. Interview with Maupin about his friendship with Tamara De Treaux.
  20. ^ "Reviews of ''Maybe the Moon'' and synopsis". March 4, 2006. 
  21. ^ a b c "Armistead Maupin: The quick-witted author mined his own experience for The Night Listener". 
  22. ^ Paul Colichman Chief Executive Officer (August 17, 2012). "Interview at". [dead link]
  23. ^ Audio interview about The Night Listener – on WHYY-FM, October 3, 2000
  24. ^ 'Suddenly Home' – a story featuring the fictional characters in Noone at Night
  25. ^ "Oft Asked Questions". Literary Bent .com. February 13, 2006. 
  26. ^ Armistead Maupin (2007). "Michael Tolliver Lives". Retrieved 3 December 2013. 
  27. ^ Bustin, Steve (10 June 2008). "I might well come back to Mr Tolliver one more time". Archived from the original on 10 June 2008. 
  28. ^ a b "Armistead Maupin talks!" –
  29. ^ "Sex and the city" – Interview in The Observer
  30. ^ "Latest Maupin tale tells of 'closet of age'". London: The Guardian. [dead link]
  31. ^ "Reader, he married him" – Review in The Guardian
  32. ^ Salvatore, Joseph (November 12, 2010). "Book Review – Mary Ann in Autumn – By Armistead Maupin". The New York Times. 
  33. ^ Andy Gott (December 2, 2011). "Exclusive: Armistead Maupin confirms new Tales of the City novel". So So Gay. 
  34. ^ Remarks for the Closing Ceremonies of the Gay Games IV, Yankee Stadium, June 25, 1994
  35. ^ Armistead Maupin at the National AIDS Memorial Grove, located in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park
  36. ^ "Audio interview about Maupin's New Zealand home". August 3, 2004. 
  37. ^ "The First Couple: Don Bachardy and Christopher Isherwood" – Armistead Maupin interviews Christopher Isherwood for The Village Voice, Volume 30, Number 16
  38. ^ "Foreword to 'The Isherwood Century'". March 5, 2006. 
  39. ^ Christopher Turner (June 17, 2007). "Five Questions for Christopher Turner: Daddy-hunt site entrepreneur knows of which he posts". San Francisco Chronicle. 
  40. ^ "Armistead Maupin narrator". Recorded Books. Retrieved 3 December 2013. 
  41. ^ Morris, Sarah Jane. "Naughties Overview". Retrieved March 12, 2014. 
  42. ^ "Santa Fe New Mexican", October 14, 2012.
  43. ^ Gilmore, Sue (August 5, 2007). "Maupin Up for Another Award". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved 2007-10-10. 
  44. ^ Ward, David (May 11, 2006). "Chronicler of San Francisco wins best gay read award". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2007-10-10. [dead link]
  45. ^ "Armistead Maupin – The Night Listener: Product Features". Retrieved 2007-10-10. 
  46. ^ "Armistead Maupin". imdb. Retrieved 2007-10-10. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Gale, Patrick. Armistead Maupin. Bath, Somerset, England: Absolute Press, 1999. ISBN 1-899791-37-X

External links[edit]