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Performing the "Unnatural" Life: America's First Gay Autobiography

Performing the "Unnatural" Life: America's First Gay Autobiography 03-sonstegard 10/29/02 10:28 AM Page 545 PERFORMING THE “UNNATURAL” LIFE: AMERICA’S FIRST GAY AUTOBIOGRAPHY ADAM SONSTEGARD The first known autobiography written in America by a self-described homo- sexual man appeared just over a century ago. The author, who was thirty years old when he published the autobiography in 1901, adopted the pseu- donym Claude Hartland. A publisher of medical textbooks in Saint Louis, Missouri, printed his book—a slender volume in a green, clothbound edi- tion, which Hartland titled The Story of a Life. The narrative’s one-hundred pages detail Hartland’s physical symptoms and personal idiosyncrasies as a kind of case history for the benefit of the local medical fraternity, to whom he dedicates the book. Records show that Hartland’s memoir actually reached few of those physicians, falling into obscurity for decades until San Francisco’s Grey Fox Press reissued it in paperback in 1985, with a foreword by C. A. Tripp. David Bergman, James Gifford, and Jonathan Ned Katz have recently joined Tripp in recovering Hartland’s memoir, including it in developing histories of gay and lesbian lives and life writing. This article takes up a number of points from these historians and theorists of sexuality and autobiography to explore more specifically http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Biography University of Hawai'I Press

Performing the "Unnatural" Life: America's First Gay Autobiography

Biography , Volume 25 (4) – Jan 6, 2003

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Publisher
University of Hawai'I Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2002 Biographical Research Center.
ISSN
0162-4962
eISSN
1529-1456

Abstract

03-sonstegard 10/29/02 10:28 AM Page 545 PERFORMING THE “UNNATURAL” LIFE: AMERICA’S FIRST GAY AUTOBIOGRAPHY ADAM SONSTEGARD The first known autobiography written in America by a self-described homo- sexual man appeared just over a century ago. The author, who was thirty years old when he published the autobiography in 1901, adopted the pseu- donym Claude Hartland. A publisher of medical textbooks in Saint Louis, Missouri, printed his book—a slender volume in a green, clothbound edi- tion, which Hartland titled The Story of a Life. The narrative’s one-hundred pages detail Hartland’s physical symptoms and personal idiosyncrasies as a kind of case history for the benefit of the local medical fraternity, to whom he dedicates the book. Records show that Hartland’s memoir actually reached few of those physicians, falling into obscurity for decades until San Francisco’s Grey Fox Press reissued it in paperback in 1985, with a foreword by C. A. Tripp. David Bergman, James Gifford, and Jonathan Ned Katz have recently joined Tripp in recovering Hartland’s memoir, including it in developing histories of gay and lesbian lives and life writing. This article takes up a number of points from these historians and theorists of sexuality and autobiography to explore more specifically

Journal

BiographyUniversity of Hawai'I Press

Published: Jan 6, 2003

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