Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
Armistead Jones Maupin (MAW-pihn), Jr., is a an openly gay novelist known primarily for his casual storytelling style and passionate desire to relate an inclusive portrait of the universal human experience. Born in Washington, D.C., in 1944 as the eldest of three children, Maupin grew up in the conservative environment of Raleigh, North Carolina, in the 1950’s and 1960’s. His family was descended from a Confederate general. Maupin’s father, Armistead Jones Maupin, was a leading southern lawyer who wished for his son to follow in his footsteps. While growing up, however, Maupin explored his early creative impulses by acting in local theater productions with his mother, Diana Jane (Barton) Maupin, an amateur actress. Armistead Maupin graduated in 1966 with a B.A. in English from the University of North Carolina (UNC). Following his father’s wishes, he abandoned his study of English to enter UNC’s law school, but having failed his first-year exams, Maupin quit school and worked as a reporter at the WRAL television station in Raleigh with conservative senator Jesse Helms, one of the station’s executives. Maupin left the station to enter the U.S. Navy’s officer candidate school and served as a communications officer in the Mediterranean region. He then volunteered for duty in Vietnam, where he served with the River Patrol Force as a lieutenant from 1967 to 1970. For his service, Maupin received the Navy Commendation Medal. After the war, he organized a group...
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Armistead Maupin (pronounced “mop-pin”) was born into a Southern, conservative household. He served a tour of duty in Vietnam, voted for Barry Goldwater for president, and worked in the office of ultraconservative newspaperman and later senator Jesse Helms. One of Maupin’s earliest impressions of homosexuality came from the film Advise and Consent (1962), from which Maupin inferred that the only recourse available to the honorable homosexual was suicide.
Celebrity Anita Bryant’s antigay campaign triggered Maupin’s evolution from Southern conservative to gay liberal. Maupin moved to San Francisco, proclaimed his homosexuality, and discovered that concurrently he had found his authentic writing voice. In the mid-1970’s, Maupin began writing a daily serial for the San Francisco Chronicle about life in San Francisco. Although the installments dealt with gay and straight characters, the most popular ones quickly became Anna Madrigal, a transsexual, and Michael Tolliver, her gay tenant.
Maupin repopularized the newspaper serial as a form of fiction, thus becoming known as the Charles Dickens of the twentieth century. Each installment had unity of time, place, and action and ended on a high point of drama or mystery. In his serials, Maupin followed the words of another nineteenth century writer, Wilkie Collins: “Make ’em cry, make ’em laugh, make ’em wait.”
The readership of the daily 800-word...
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