Naiad Press

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Naiad Press
Naiad Press logo.jpg
Status Defunct
Founded 1973
Founder Barbara Grier, Anyda Marchant, Donna McBride, Muriel Crawford
Successor Bella Books
Country of origin United States
Headquarters location Tallahassee, Florida
Key people Barbara Grier and Donna McBride, Publishers
Publication types Books
Fiction genres Lesbian fiction
Number of employees 6
Official website

Naiad Press was one of the first publishing companies dedicated to lesbian literature. At its closing it was the oldest and largest lesbian/feminist publisher in the world.[1]


Naiad Press was founded by partners Barbara Grier and Donna McBride in January 1973, along with Anyda Marchant and Muriel Crawford. It was devoted exclusively to lesbian literature. The company began both in Kansas City, Missouri, home of Grier and McBride and Rehoboth Beach, DE, home of Marchant and Crawford. The business began with $2000, provided by the author of the Press's first work, The Latecomer by Sarah Aldridge, the pen name of lawyer Anyda Marchant, and her partner Muriel Crawford.[2]

In 1973, there were few bookstores which would carry such overtly lesbian materials, so Naiad Press relied heavily on mail order in order to market and sell books. Naiad benefitted from its use of the 3800-member mailing list of The Ladder, a prominent and recently defunct lesbian newsletter published by the Daughters of Bilitis. "Naiad's commitment to the publication of lesbian material included the use of its profits from one book to produce the next".[3]

In addition to original writings, Naiad published out-of-print lesbian fiction, such as novels of Ann Bannon, Jane Rule and Gale Wilhelm and acquired rights and brought back into print poetry by Gertrude Stein and translations of poetry by Renee Vivien. Early book covers were designed by Tee Corinne. Naiad was credited with playing "a crucial role in bringing lesbian mysteries into prominence in the 1980s[4]" by publishing award-winning series featuring detectives Kate Delafield, Carol Ashton, Caitlin Reece, Virginia Kelley and others.

Authors Sarah Schulman and Patrick Califia were first published by Naiad Press. Its genre fiction authors included prolific and award-winning writers such as Katherine V. Forrest, Claire McNab and Karin Kallmaker.

Naiad achieved national prominence in 1985 with its publication of Lesbian Nuns: Breaking Silence, for which it reportedly paid Rosemary (Keefe) Curb and Nancy Manahan $500,000.[5] The book was banned in Boston.[6] The press also published other nonfiction work, such as The Lesbian Periodical Index, The Lesbian in Literature, and Staying Power: Long-Term Lesbian Couples.

In 2002, Grier and McBride received the Pioneer Award from the Lambda Literary Foundation. On their retirement in 2003, Grier and McBride sold their current stock to Bella Books. Many Naiad Press authors transferred their contracts to Bella Books.

The Naiad Press Collection at Gay and Lesbian Center of the SFPL[edit]

In 1992, Grier established the Naiad Press Collection at the James C. Hormel Gay and Lesbian Center of the San Francisco Public Library,[7] completing delivery of their massive collection of memorabilia, lesbian and gay literature, including many classic lesbian pulp fiction titles in 1998. Correspondence in the collection includes exchanges with contracted authors as well as other literary luminaries and influences such as Dorothy Allison, Rita Mae Brown, Nancy Berreano of publishing houses Crossing and Firebrand, Andrea Dworkin, Audre Lorde, Sherry Thomas of Old Wives Tales feminist bookstore and Spinsters Ink, and background material on the establishment of the Women in Print Conferences which began in 1976 and are widely credited with creating the Feminist Bookstore Network.

Clothing, banners, posters, T-shirts and scrapbooks comprise the memorabilia in the collection. Extensive audio recordings made of interviews and news programs over the press's history are also in the collection.The San Francisco Public Library History Center holds the considerable collection of archival photographs of lesbian and gay literary figures.

Notable authors[edit]


  1. ^ According to an August 25, 1986 letter from Nancy Manahan, editor of the anthology Lesbian Nuns: Breaking Silence, addressed to "Dear Contributors," she writes: "With Naiad's August 1986 check, I can begin compensating myself for my time during the past five years and send each of you a check....I want to start paying myself. I used most of my savings during the year I was on the road, drawing no salary, still paying rent, upkeep, utilities, auto and medical insurance, estimated taxes, food, clothes, books and all the other little costs of living." It seems unlikely that Manahan and Curb received an advance in the neighborhood of $500,000. (This is in reference to footnote 5.)
  2. ^ Anyda Marchant; Author, Publisher -
  3. ^ Biography and Corporate History, The Naiad Press Collection. Collection GLC30, San Francisco Public Library
  4. ^ Priestman, Martin. Cambridge Companion to Crime Fiction, Cambridge University Press, p. 200-01.
  5. ^ Bianco, David. Gay Essentials: Facts for Your Queer Brain. Los Angeles: Alyson Books, 1999.
  6. ^ The Naiad Press Collection, Collection GLC30, San Francisco Public Library
  7. ^ The Naiad Press Collection, Collection GLC30, San Francisco Public Library

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]