Lesbian Pulp Fiction display caseIf you visit the MSVU Library, you can view a sample of the Lesbian Pulp Fiction Collection in a locked wooden cabinet next to the main circulation desk. The MSVU Library is home to the largest collection of lesbian pulp fiction in Atlantic Canada (and one of the largest in North America). The collection features nearly 140 titles of these scarce and, in some cases, fragile sought-after paperbacks. Newer editions of a number of titles can be found in the general circulating collection.

The genre of lesbian pulp fiction rose to popularity during the 1950s and 1960s and depicts lesbian life and societal attitudes towards lesbians in the mid-20th century USA. Originally marketed to men as erotica, the story rarely featured a happy ending for the lesbian protagonists. The stories typically had a heavy moralistic tone and usually ended with one of the women leaving the lesbian for a man. At the time, the paperbacks were sought after by lesbians as they were seen as one of the only sources of lesbian representation in popular culture.

Lesbian pulp fiction is also known for the vivid cover artwork, which often features a woman or multiple women. The sexualized images on the covers grabbed the reader’s attention first by providing the essential information about whether there was lesbian content within the book rather than the actual genre of the book.

Lesbian Pulp Fiction Covers

To mark Lesbian Visibility Week (April 22 – 28), the MSVU Library will showcase the Lesbian Pulp Fiction Collection at the Halifax Central Library. On Wednesday, April 24, at 7 p.m., Denyse Rodrigues (Interim University Librarian) and Terrah Keener will host a special discussion on the collection and genre entitled Love in the Twilight: Exploring the World of Lesbian Pulp Fiction—open to all.

Upcoming Talk

Love in the Twilight: Exploring the World of Lesbian Pulp Fiction

Wednesday, April 24, 2024 |    7:00 – 8:30 p.m.

Paul O’Regan Hall, Halifax Central Library (5440 Spring Garden Road)

Description: Twilight passions, queer pairings, and forbidden love. In honour of Lesbian Visibility Week, come and celebrate the strange and wonderful world of lesbian pulp fiction! This successful genre of commercial fiction flourished from the 1950s to the 1960s, giving lesbians and bisexual women a chance to see their own lives reflected in the literature- however tragically and imperfectly.

Denyse Rodrigues and Terrah Keener discuss this fascinating literary phenomenon, with selected readings given from real pulp fiction novels. They will also show clips from the classic Canadian documentary Forbidden Love: The Unashamed Stories of Lesbian Lives. Tea, coffee, and refreshments will be served.