Armistead Maupin
Name at BirthArmistead Jones Maupin, Jr.
Alma materUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
SpouseChristopher Turner (2007–present)

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

Early life

Maupin was born to parents, Diana Maupin and Armistead Jones Maupin, in Washington, D.C.. Soon afterwards, his family moved to North Carolina, where he was raised.[2] He says he has had storytelling instincts since he was eight years old.[3] He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he became involved in journalism through writing for The Daily Tar Heel.[4] 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, who also delivered the station's well-known editorial segments throughout his management of the station in the 1960s. 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.[2][3][4] 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.[5][6] He says he had known he was gay since childhood,[3][4] but didn't have sex until he was 26 and only decided to come out in 1974 when he was about 30.[2][7][8][9] 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.[10]

Personal life

Maupin's former partner of 12 years, Terry Anderson, was once a gay rights activist (Maupin himself has done much of that sort of work),[11][12] and co-authored the screenplay for The Night Listener. He lived with Anderson in San Francisco and New Zealand.[13] Ian McKellen is a friend and Christopher Isherwood was a mentor, friend, and influence as a writer.[14][15]

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'"[16][17] 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.[18]

He enjoys doing public readings of his own works and has recorded them all as audiobooks. Maupin shares a grandfather with English singer Sarah Jane Morris[3][19]

On being a 'gay writer'

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.
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 formalized 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 and 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 revolutionized 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.


Tales of the City

Other novels


  • 2007, Barbary Coast Award, presented by Litquake Literary Festival, San Francisco[20]
  • 2006, Best Gay Read Award, presented by the Big Gay Read Literature Festival, in the UK[21]
  • 2001, Gay, Lesbian & Bisexual Book Award[22]
  • 1999, Capital Award, presented by GLADD Media Awards[23]


  1. Pronounced "Mawpin' as read in English, rather than rhyming with the French "Gauguin." "Armistead Maupin" happens to be 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. 2.0 2.1 2.2 'Growing up Gay in old Raleigh – in The Independent of Raleigh, North Carolina, June 1988 – autobiographical memoir
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Template:Cite interview
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 A Conversation with Author Armistead Maupin – on KUOW-FM radio, 2007-06-19
  5. My First Glimpse of The City – in Guest Informant, 1998–1999. Maupin recalls his first experiences of San Francisco.
  6. 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 civilized about homosexuality." (in the New York Times interview)
  7. 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.
  8. Letter to Mama – Michael Tolliver's coming out letter, a response in the book to his parents' participation in Anita Bryant's real-life anti-gay Save Our Children campaign. Maupin used the letter to serve the same purpose for his own parents, who followed the Tales serial.
  9. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named EW
  10. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named time
  11. Remarks for the Closing Ceremonies of the Gay Games IV, Yankee Stadium, June 25, 1994
  12. Armistead Maupin at the National AIDS Memorial Grove, located in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park
  13. Audio interview about Maupin's New Zealand home. (August 3, 2004).
  14. "The First Couple: Don Bachardy and Christopher Isherwood" – Armistead Maupin interviews Christopher Isherwood for The Village Voice, Volume 30, Number 16
  15. Foreword to 'The Isherwood Century'. (March 5, 2006).
  16. Armistead Maupin: The quick-witted author mined his own experience for The Night Listener – in Time Out New York.
  17. Five Questions for Christopher Turner: Daddy-hunt site entrepreneur knows of which he posts – Interview with Christopher Turner in the San Francisco Chronicle
  18. Scott, Kemble (April 23, 2007). Armistead Maupin’s Family Ties. Publishers Weekly. Archived from the original on April 29, 2007.
  19. Armistead Maupin. Facebook.
  20. Gilmore, Sue. "Maupin Up for Another Award", San Jose Mercury News, August 5, 2007. Retrieved on 2007-10-10. 
  21. Ward, David. "Chronicler of San Francisco wins best gay read award", The Guardian, May 11, 2006. Retrieved on 2007-10-10. 
  22. Armistead Maupin – The Night Listener: Product Features. Retrieved on 2007-10-10.
  23. Armistead Maupin. imdb. Retrieved on 2007-10-10.

Further reading

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

External links

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