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Armistead Jones Maupin, Jr. (born May 13, 1944) is an American writer, best known for his Tales of the City series of novels, set in San Francisco.
Maupin was born in Washington, D.C., to Diana Jane (Barton) and Armistead Jones Maupin. Soon afterwards, his family moved 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 at Chapel Hill, where he became involved in journalism through writing for The Daily Tar Heel. After earning his undergraduate degree, Maupin enrolled in law school but later dropped out.
Maupin worked at WRAL-TV (Channel 5) in Raleigh, a station then managed by future U.S. Senator Jesse Helms. Helms nominated Maupin for a patriotic award, which he won. Maupin says he was a typical conservative and even a segregationist at this time and admired Helms, a family friend, as a "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 Capitol. 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 Charleston newspaper was followed with an offer of a position at the San Francisco bureau of the Associated Press in 1971. He says he had known he was gay since childhood, but didn't have sex until he was 26 and only decided to come out in 1974 when he was about 30. 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's San Francisco edition folded.
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 County 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. It was followed by an eighth volume, Mary Ann in Autumn, published in 2010 and a ninth and final volume, The Days of Anna Madrigal, in 2014. 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, and there are more than six million copies in print. Several of the books have been adapted and broadcast on BBC Radio 4.
The first three books in the series have also been adapted into three television miniseries starring Olympia Dukakis and Laura Linney. The first airing was on the American publicly funded television network PBS; subsequent miniseries appeared on the American cable television channel Showtime.
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 the Seattle Men's Chorus entitled Tunes From Tales (Music for Mouse), which included readings from his books and music from the era.
In May 2011, a theatrical musical version of Tales of the City had its premiere at American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco. The musical has a score and lyrics by Jake Shears and John Garden of the rock band Scissor Sisters, and a book by Jeff Whitty. It was directed by Jason Moore.
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 canon, though both books occasionally glance in that direction.
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 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 Salon.com, prior to its print publication. The Night Listener was 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, which was 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."
Mary Ann in Autumn was published November 12, 2010 by Harper/HarperCollins, continuing the series. It was reviewed by Joseph Salvatore in the New York Times Sunday Book Reviews on November 14. It was followed in January 2014 by The Days of Anna Madrigal, which Maupin says will be the final novel in the series.
Maupin is married to Christopher Turner, a website producer and photographer. He saw him on a dating website and then "chased him down Castro Street, saying, 'Didn’t I see you on Daddyhunt.com?'" Maupin and Turner were married in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, on February 18, 2007, though Maupin says that they had called each other "husband" for two years prior.
Maupin's former life partner of 12 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 Maupin in San Francisco and New Zealand.
Ian McKellen is a friend and Christopher Isherwood was a mentor, friend, and influence as a writer.
Maupin shares a grandfather with English singer Sarah Jane Morris. He is an atheist.
He enjoys doing public readings of his own works and has recorded them all as audiobooks.
In 2012 Maupin purchased the home of shoe designers Lynne and Dennis Comeau in Tesuque, New Mexico.
Tales of the City