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Armistead Jones Maupin Jr. (born May 13, 1944) is an Americanmarker writer best known for his Tales of the City series of novels based in San Franciscomarker.


Maupin, a descendent of American Revolutionary War general Gabriel Maupin, was born to a conservative, Christian family in Washington, D.C.marker, but moved early on to North Carolinamarker where he was raised. He says he has had storytelling instincts since he was eight years old. He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hillmarker where he got into journalism through writing for The Daily Tar Heel. After earning his undergraduate degree, Maupin enrolled in law school, but later resigned from it. He worked at a television station in Raleighmarker managed by conservative television personality and later U.S. Senator Jesse Helms, who nominated him for a patriotic award, which he won. Maupin says he was a typical conservative and even a segregation at this time and admired Helms, whom he knew and who was a family friend, as a sort of "hero figure." He later changed his opinions dramatically—- "I've changed and he hasn't"—- and condemned Helms at a gay pride parade on the steps of the North Carolina State Capitolmarker. Maupin is a veteran of the United States Navy; he served several tours of duty including one in Vietnam during the Vietnam War.

Maupin's work on a Charlestonmarker newspaper was followed with an offer of a post at the San Francisco bureau of the Associated Press in 1971. He says he knew he was gay since childhood, but didn't have sex until he was 26 and only decided to come out in 1974. The same year, he began what would become the Tales of the City series as a serial in a Marin County-based newspaper, the Pacific Sun, moving to the San Francisco Chronicle after the Sun San Francisco edition folded.

His former partner of twelve years, Terry Anderson, was once a gay rights activist (Maupin himself has done much of that sort of work), and co-authored the screenplay for The Night Listener. He lived with Anderson in San Francisco and New Zealandmarker. Ian McKellen is a friend and former lover and Christopher Isherwood was a mentor, friend, and influence as a writer. Maupin is now married to Christopher Turner, a website producer and photographer whom he had seen on an internet dating website and then "chased him down Castro Street, saying, 'Didn’t I see you on'" Maupin and Turner were married in Vancouvermarker, British Columbia, Canadamarker, on February 18, 2007, though Maupin 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.


Tales of the City

Tales of the City is a series of novels, the first portions of which were published initially as a newspaper serial starting on August 8, 1974, in a Marin Countymarker newspaper, The Pacific Sun, picked up in 1976 by the San Francisco Chronicle, and later reworked into the series of books published by HarperCollins (then Harper and Row). The first of Maupin's novels, entitled Tales of the City, was published in 1978. Five more followed in the 1980s, 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, Maupin 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."

The Tales of the City books have been translated into ten languages (French: Les Chroniques de San Francisco; ) and there are more than six million copies in print.

Television miniseries

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 and the latter two on the American cable television channel Showtime.

Musical projects

He collaborated on Anna Madrigal Remembers, a musical work written by Jake Heggie and performed by choir Chanticleer and mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade on August 6, 1999, for which Maupin provided a new libretto. He also participated in a concert series with Seattle Men's Chorus entitled Tunes From Tales (Music for Mouse), which included readings from his books and music from the era.

Maybe the Moon and The Night Listener

Maupin has written two novels, Maybe The Moon and The Night Listener, which are not part of the Tales series.

Maybe The Moon is a story Maupin describes as 'partly autobiographical', despite the main character being a female heterosexual Jewish dwarf. The character was also based on his friend Tamara De Treaux, who played the title character in the 1982 film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

The Night Listener is a roman à clef, inspired by Maupin's real-life experiences concerning the Anthony Godby Johnson hoax. He says that he wanted to create a psychological thriller, while being able to put autobiographical elements in it. The issues he addresses include the ending of his relationship with his long-term partner and his relationship with his father. The book very lightly references the Tales world via Gabriel Noone's assistant, who is one of DeDe Halcyon-Day's twins from Tales. It was serialized on the internet, on, prior to its print publication. The Night Listener has been adapted into a movie that was screened at the Sundance Film Festival in late January 2006 and released by Miramax the following August.

Michael Tolliver Lives

Prior to the 2007 release of Michael Tolliver Lives, Maupin had been quoted on his website as saying that another Tales of the City novel was unlikely. Although Maupin originally stated that this novel was "NOT a sequel to Tales [of the City] and it's certainly not Book 7 in the series," he later conceded that "I’ve stopped denying that this is book seven in Tales of the City, as it clearly is ... I suppose I didn’t want people to be thrown by the change in the format, as this is a first person novel unlike the third person format of the Tales of the City books and it’s about one character who interrelates with other characters. Having said that, it is still very much a continuation of the saga and I think I realised it was very much time for me to come back to this territory."

The novel is written from the first-person perspective of Tales character Michael 'Mouse' Tolliver, now in his fifties and living as an HIV-positive man. It also features appearances by familiar Tales characters, such as Anna Madrigal. Maupin said: "I was interested in pursuing the life of an aging gay man, and Michael was the perfect vehicle ... However, as soon as I started writing, I found that, one by one, all the other characters stepped forward and asked to be present. It felt natural, so I went with it." He calls it "a smaller, more personal novel than I've written in the past." The book was released on June 12, 2007, declared 'Michael Tolliver Day' by the mayor of San Francisco.

His next project is another Tales volume: "Whatever I have to offer seems to come through those characters ... And I see no reason to abandon them."

On being a 'gay writer'


Tales of the City

Other novels


  • 2007, Barbary Coast Award, presented by Litquake Literary Festival, San Franciscomarker
  • 2006, Best Gay Read Award, presented by the Big Gay Read Literature Festival, in the UK
  • 2001, Gay, Lesbian, & Bisexual Book Award
  • 1999, Capital Award, presented by GLADD Media Awards

Notes and references

  1. Pronounced 'Mawpin' as read in English rather than rhyming with the French 'Gauguin'. 'Armistead Maupin' happens to be an anagram of 'Is a Man I Dreamt Up' ( Armistead Maupin Is a Man I Dreamt Up was the title of a 1990 BBC documentary on him), though neither the name nor Maupin himself was invented. He recalls: 'One person even wrote: "I know for a fact that you don't exist. You're really a lesbian collective in Marin County." (Sometimes I feel like a lesbian collective in Marin County, but I'm not.)' See: Oft Asked Questions.
  2. 'Growing up Gay in old Raleigh -- in The Independent of Raleigh, North Carolina, June 1988 - autobiographical memoir
  3. A Conversation with Author Armistead Maupin - on KUOW-FM radio, 2007-06-19
  4. My First Glimpse of The City - in Guest Informant, 1998-1999. Maupin recalls his first experiences of San Francisco.
  5. He has said of San Francisco that he had "no sense of it being a gay mecca" and has called it "this amazing city that embraced me, that had made me aware of my true self", and has said "what really floored me was that the straight folks in San Francisco were so civilised about homosexuality." (in the New York Times interview)
  6. For Armistead Maupin, There Are Still Tales to Tell - Interview in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He agreed to be identified as a homosexual in a "Ten Most Eligible Bachelors" article in San Francisco magazine.
  7. Letter to Mama - Michael Tolliver's coming out letter, a response in the book to his parents' participation in Anita Bryant's real-life anti-gay Save Our Children campaign. Maupin used the letter to serve the same purpose for his own parents, who followed the Tales serial.
  8. Remarks for the Closing Ceremonies of the Gay Games IV, Yankee Stadium, June 25, 1994
  9. Armistead Maupin at the National AIDS Memorial Grove, located in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park
  10. Audio interview about Maupin's New Zealand home
  11. Audio interview with Armistead Maupin on NPR, 2000-11-11
  12. "The First Couple: Don Bachardy and Christopher Isherwood" - Armistead Maupin interviews Christopher Isherwood for The Village Voice, Volume 30, Number 16
  13. Foreword to 'The Isherwood Century'
  14. Armistead Maupin: The quick-witted author mined his own experience for The Night Listener - in Time Out New York.
  15. Five Questions For Christopher Turner: Daddy-hunt site entrepreneur knows of which he posts - Interview with Christopher Turner in the San Francisco Chronicle
  16. Tales of the City graphic timeline
  17. A Tale of the Seventies TV Guide, January 1994. Article by Maupin about the difficult process of getting the Tales series into TV production.
  18. Seattle Men's Chorus welcomes Armistead Maupin to Benaroya Hall
  19. Behind the scenes: THE OUTSIDER - San Francisco Focus Magazine], October 1992. Interview with Maupin about his friendship with Tamara De Treaux.
  20. Reviews of Maybe the Moon and synopsis
  21. Interview at
  22. Audio interview about The Night Listener - on WHYY-FM, October 3, 2000
  23. 'Suddenly Home' - a story featuring the fictional characters in Noone at Night
  24. - Oft Asked Questions
  25. Michael Tolliver Lives at
  26., June 28, 2007
  27. "Armistead Maupin talks!" -
  28. "Sex and the city" - Interview in The Observer
  29. "Tolliver's Travels" - Entertainment Weekly, 7 June 2007
  30. "Latest Maupin tale tells of 'closet of age'" - The Guardian
  31. "Reader, he married him" - Review in The Guardian

Further reading

  • Gale, Patrick. Armistead Maupin. Bath, Somerset, England: Absolute Press, 1999. ISBN 189979137X

External links

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