Armistead Maupin born 13 May in 1944
Armistead Maupin is an American writer best known for his Tales of the City series of novels based in San Francisco.
Maupin, a descendent of American Revolutionary War general Gabriel Maupin, was born to a conservative, Christian family in Washington, D.C., but moved early on to North Carolina where he was raised. He says he has had storytelling instincts since he was eight years old.
He attended the University of North Carolina where he got into journalism through writing for The Daily Tar Heel. After earning his undergraduate degree, Maupin enrolled in law school, but later dropped out. He worked at a television station in Raleigh managed by conservative television personality and later US Senator Jesse Helms, who nominated him for a patriotic award, which he won. Maupin is a veteran of the United States Navy; he served several tours of duty including one in the Vietnam War.
Maupin's work on a Charleston newspaper was followed with an offer of a post at the San Francisco bureau of the Associated Press in 1971. The move to San Francisco was to change his life.
He says he knew he was gay since childhood, but didn't have sex until he was 26 and only decided to come out publicly in 1974. The same year, he began what would become the Tales of the City series as a serial in a local newspaper, The Pacific Sun, moving to the San Francisco Chronicle after the former newspaper folded.
Tales of the City is a series of novels, the first portions of which were initially published as a newspaper serial and later reworked into the series of books. The first of Maupin's novels, entitled Tales of the City, was published in 1978. Five more followed in the 80s, ending with the last book, Sure of You, in 1989. A seventh novel published in 2007, Michael Tolliver Lives, continues the story of some of the characters. In Babycakes, published in 1983, he was one of the first writers to address the subject of AIDS. Of the autobiographical nature of the characters, he says, 'I’ve always been all of the characters in one way or another.' Maupin's novels are essentially comic in nature, but he has never been afraid to add controversy, thrills, chills and strong doses of reality to the mix.
The first three books in the series have also been converted into three television miniseries starring Olympia Dukakis and Laura Linney, the first airing on the American television network PBS (Channel 4 in the UK) and the latter two on the American cable television channel Showtime. Plans to film the rest of the Tales have been scuppered by costs, despite the willingness of many of the cast to reprise their roles and the now much less controversial climate.
Maupin has written two novels, Maybe The Moon and The Night Listener, which are not part of the Tales series. The Night Listener, a psychological thriller, still with Maupin's trademark autobiographical touches, was made into film in 2006, starring Robin Williams and Toni Collette.
His former partner of twelve years, Terry Anderson, was once a gay rights activist (Maupin himself has done much work in this area), and co-authored the screenplay for The Night Listener. He lived with Anderson in San Francisco and New Zealand. Ian McKellen is a close friend and Christopher Isherwood was a mentor, friend, and influence as a writer.
Maupin is now married to Christopher Turner, a website producer and photographer who he came across on an internet dating website and then 'chased him down Castro Street, saying, "Didn’t I see you on Daddyhunt.com?"' Armistead and Christopher were married in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, on February 18, 2007, though he says that they had called each other 'husband' for two years prior. He enjoys doing public readings of his own works and has recorded them all as audiobooks.
In May 2006 Tales of the City was named Britain favourite gay novel in a poll to find the Big Gay Read - part of the Queer Up North arts festival.
In 2010 Maupin produced another Tales volume, Mary Ann in the Autumn: 'Whatever I have to offer seems to come through those characters ... And I see no reason to abandon them.' Good news, indeed. Armistead Maupin - we love and salute you.
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