Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward, Professor, Tattoo Artist, and Sexual Renegade

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Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Aug 17, 2010 - Biography & Autobiography - 496 pages
11 Reviews

Drawn from the secret, never-before-seen diaries, journals, and sexual records of the novelist, poet, and university professor Samuel M. Steward, Secret Historian is a sensational reconstruction of one of the more extraordinary hidden lives of the twentieth century. An intimate friend of Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, and Thornton Wilder, Steward maintained a secret sex life from childhood on, and documented these experiences in brilliantly vivid (and often very funny) detail.

After leaving the world of academe to become Phil Sparrow, a tattoo artist on Chicago's notorious South State Street, Steward worked closely with Alfred Kinsey on his landmark sex research. During the early 1960s, Steward changed his name and identity once again, this time to write exceptionally literate, upbeat pro-homosexual pornography under the name of Phil Andros.

Until today he has been known only as Phil Sparrow—but an extraordinary archive of his papers, lost since his death in 1993, has provided Justin Spring with the material for an exceptionally compassionate and brilliantly illuminating life-and-times biography. More than merely the story of one remarkable man, Secret Historian is a moving portrait of homosexual life long before Stonewall and gay liberation.
Secret Historian is a 2010 National Book Award Finalist for Nonfiction.

 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - gayla.bassham - LibraryThing

Compelling and depressing. Unsettling. An interesting portrait of an all-but-forgotten literary figure. Interestingly, I found the tattooing a little uncomfortable to read about; I had no idea I was so squeamish, but I was squirming during a couple of chapters. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - dbsovereign - LibraryThing

Fascinating biography of a gay man who kept track of all of his sexual partners throughout his life - including some notorious ones (Rock Hudson, Rudolph Valentino to name a couple). As a professor ... Read full review

Contents

1 WildHog Wild
3
2 Teres Atque Rotundus
32
3 The Chicago Novel
56
4 The navy has always had an attraction for me
76
5 Sobriety and After
98
6 Kinsey and Company
111
7 Living in Dreams
128
8 Writing Lynes
159
15 Payments to hustlers
282
16 Masters and Slaves
295
17 Phil Andros TUD
305
18 A New Life in Oakland
319
19 From the brow of Zeus
344
20 Dear Sammy
356
21 Porte after stormie seas
385
The Steward Papers
407

9 A kind of obscene diary actually
180
10 Mr Chips of the Tattoo World
200
11 The Kothmann Affair
216
12 The Parting
230
13 Pleasure doesnt really make one happy
246
14 Kris and Kreis
263
Notes
415
Selected Bibliography
441
Acknowledgments
457
Index
459
Copyright

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About the author (2010)

Justin Spring is a writer specializing in twentieth-century American art and culture, and the author of many monographs, catalogs, museum publications, and books, including Fairfield Porter: A Life in Art and Paul Cadmus: The Male Nude.

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