Torrès, Tereska

Title

Torrès, Tereska

Birth Date

3 September 1920

Birthplace

Paris, France

Death Date

20 September 2012

Occupation

Writer

Biographical Text

Tereska Torrès joined De Gaulle's Women's Army Corps after being forced to flee to England during the War. Her second husband, Meyer Levin encouraged her to write a novel based on her experiences. It was published in the United States in 1950 as Women’s Barracks. It was the first paperback original to discuss lesbian relationships candidly. Although the lesbians characters played minor roles in the book, the racy cover by Barye Phillips featuring women undressing in an army barracks presented a different picture.

Fawcett Publishers anticipated that the book would be controversial and asked Levin, who had translated the text from French to English to add a narrator with a moralizing tone. Torres agreed to the addition to her work by her husband. Despite this precaution, Women's Barracks was selected as an example moral degeneracy by the 1953 U.S. House Select Committee on Current Pornographic Materials, and it was initially banned in Canada. With all the publicity Women’s Barracks became the first paperback original bestseller, selling over 2 million copies in its first five years. The enormous sales encouraged paperback publishers to pursue other stories with lesbian content, and Torrès was credited with beginning the lesbian pulp fiction genre.

Torrès remained perplexed at her status as a lesbian pulp fiction pioneer. In a 2005 interview, she remembers, “All I knew is that they all said it was terribly shocking, and I didn't know why they said that. I thought I had written a very innocent book. I thought, these Americans, they are easily shocked.” In 2007 she protested, “There are five main characters in Women's Barracks. Only one and a half of them can be considered lesbian. I don't see why it's considered a lesbian classic." The Mount Saint Vincent Library received a letter from her requesting that her novels be shelved with the main collection rather than as part of the Lesbian Pulp Fiction collection.

Sources

Fox, Margalit. “Tereska Torrès, 92, Writer of Lesbian Fiction, Dies” New York Times, September 24, 2012. https://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/25/books/tereska-torres-writer-of-lesbian-fiction-dies-at-92.html

Torrès Tereska, and Joan Schenkar. "Afterword." Women's Barracks, Feminist Press at the City University of New York, 2005.

Item Relations

This Item Creator Item: Golden cage (The)
This Item Creator Item: Dangerous games (The)
This Item Creator Item: Women's barracks
This Item Relation Item: Fawcett Publications
This Item Relation Item: Dell Paperbacks
This Item Relation Item: Avon Books

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Collection

Citation

“Torrès, Tereska,” The Lesbian Pulp Fiction Collection @ Mount Saint Vincent University, accessed September 30, 2022, https://msvulpf.omeka.net/items/show/824.