Content and quality of the books varied widely. Authors of lesbian pulps were both male and female, and often used pseudonyms - the male authors frequently used female names. One retrospective summed up the genre as, "The vast majority of these lesbian novels were written by men, designed to fulfill straight men's fantasies...But perhaps 40 or 50 lesbian (pulp) novels were written by women, and were also good enough to becoming underground classics...The pulps also reached isolated, small-town lesbians who could read them and see that they were not the only lesbians in the world."
Writer Yvonne Keller divides books within the lesbian pulp fiction genre into subclasses she labels "pro-lesbian" and "virile adventures". Pro-lesbian pulps were generally about and by women, featured a love story between women, had fairly well-developed characters, and tended not to feature gratuitous or graphic sexual encounters. Virile adventures were more male centered, perhaps with at least one male main character, and featured graphic depictions of sex. Author Paula Christian described her inspiration to write during this period: "Contemporary fiction showed such instability, violence, and sensationalism...I simply wanted to show the other side."
However, the majority of books in the lesbian pulp fiction genre promoted myths about lesbians and lesbianism. Women who are left without men can be seduced and violated by predatory lesbians (usually butch women). The depictions of lesbianism in prison, the military, and boarding schools was a well-used motif. Lesbianism was often linked to other topics that were seen as salacious or shocking at the time: witchcraft, Satanism, bondage and discipline, orgies, and voyeurism.
Barbara Grier, who started Naiad Press called the years between 1955 - 1965 the Golden Age of Lesbian Pulp Fiction. Grier republished many of the books in this span in the 1980s under Naiad, and Cleis Press and Feminist Press have again reissued them. Several writers of this "Golden Age" stood out for their contributions to gay and lesbian literature and their formation of a lesbian identity prior to the advent of feminism:
Ann Bannon (Ann Weldy b. 1932) wrote six lesbian themed pulp novels from 1957 to 1962 that later became known as The Beebo Brinker Chronicles. The popularity of the books as well as the continuity of characters gave them a remarkable longevity and earned her the title, "Queen of Lesbian Pulp Fiction." Her books were re-released in 1983 and again in 2001.
Bannon wrote: Odd Girl Out, 1957 Gold Medal Books; I Am a Woman, 1959 Gold Medal Books; Women in the Shadows, 1959 Gold Medal Books; Journey to a Woman, 1960 Gold Medal Books; The Marriage, 1960 Gold Medal Books; Beebo Brinker, 1962 Gold Medal Books
Valerie Taylor (Velma Nacella Young 1913-1997) wrote eight lesbian themed novels from 1957–1964, poetry that was published in The Ladder, and several novels in the 1970s through Naiad Press. She became a gay activist, co-founding the Mattachine Society and the Lesbian Writers' Conference in Chicago in 1974.
Taylor wrote: Whisper Their Love, 1957 Gold Medal Books; The Girls in 3-B, 1959 Gold Medal Books; Stranger on Lesbos, 1960 Gold Medal Books; A World Without Men, 1963 Midwood-Tower; Unlike Others, 1963 Midwood-Tower; Journey to Fulfillment, 1964 Midwood-Tower
Marijane Meaker (born 1927) wrote under the pen names of Vin Packer and Ann Aldrich. Packer's books were generally mystery novels, but using her Ann Aldrich name she wrote nonfiction books about lesbians that were not overly sympathetic about lesbianism and earned Meaker the ire of the Daughters of Bilitis printed in The Ladder. Barbara Grier once referred to her as "the evil genius." Meaker later wrote books for young adults under the names M.E. Kerr and Mary James.
Meaker wrote: Spring Fire, 1952 Gold Medal Books; We Walk Alone, 1955 Gold Medal Books; We Too Must Love, 1958 Gold Medal Books; Carol in a Thousand Cities, 1960 Gold Medal Books; We Two Won't Last, 1963 Gold Medal Books; Take a Lesbian to Lunch, 1972
Marion Zimmer BradleyMarion Zimmer Bradley (1930–1999) wrote under various pen names, eventually becoming quite popular for her Avalon and Darkover series. For years Bradley refused to admit she authored these books.
Bradley wrote: I am a Lesbian, 1962 as Lee Chapman; No Adam for Eve, 1966 as John Dexter; My Sister, My Love, 1963 as Miriam Gardner; Twilight Lovers, 1964 as Miriam Gardner; The Strange Women, 1967 as Miriam Gardner; Spare Her Heaven, 1963 as Morgan Ives Anything Goes, 1964 as Morgan Ives; Knives of Desire, 1966 as Morgan Ives

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