Armistead Maupin

Armistead Jones Maupin, Jr.[1][2][3] (born May 13, 1944)[4][5] is an American writer, best known for Tales of the City, a series of novels set in San Francisco.

Armistead Maupin
Maupin (left) with husband Christopher Turner in May 2013
Maupin (left) with husband Christopher Turner in May 2013
BornArmistead Jones Maupin, Jr.
May 13, 1944 (age 74)
Washington, D.C., United States
Alma materUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Notable worksTales of the City
Christopher Turner (m. 2007)

Early life

Maupin was born in Washington, D.C., to Diana Jane (Barton) and Armistead Jones Maupin.[1] His great-great-grandfather, Lawrence O'Bryan Branch, was a railroad executive, a Congressman from North Carolina from 1855 to 1861, and a Confederate general during the American Civil War.[6] His father, Armistead Jones Maupin, founded Maupin, Taylor & Ellis, "one of the largest law firms in North Carolina."[7] Maupin was raised in Raleigh, North Carolina.[8]

Maupin was educated at the Ravenscroft School.[6] He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he became involved in journalism through writing for The Daily Tar Heel.[9]


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 — "I've changed and he hasn't" — and condemned Helms at a gay pride parade on the steps of the North Carolina State Capitol.[8][10][9] 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 position at the San Francisco bureau of the Associated Press in 1971.[11][12] He says he had known he was gay since childhood,[10][9] but did not have sex until he was 26 and only decided to come out in 1974 when he was about 30.[8][13][14][15] 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.[16]

In 1978, Maupin publicly accused San Francisco Police Inspector Dave Toschi of faking one of the Zodiac Killer's taunting letters to the media, seriously and irreparably damaging Toschi's career and reputation. Maupin claimed to have noticed a "similarity" between anonymous fan mail Toschi had sent him (due to Maupin basing one of his Tales of the City characters on him) and a Zodiac letter received by the San Francisco Chronicle on April 24, 1978. While Toschi was cleared of being the Zodiac letter's author by the USPS crime lab, he was removed from the case by his superiors, and his chances of succeeding Charles Gain as chief of the San Francisco PD were immediately destroyed.[17] This incident is portrayed in the 2007 David Fincher film Zodiac.


Maupin at the 47th Emmy Awards, 1994

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.[16] 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.[18] In Babycakes, published in 1983, Maupin was one of the first writers to address the subject of AIDS.[15] Of the autobiographical nature of the characters, he says "I've always been all of the characters in one way or another."[19]

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.[20]

Television miniseries

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 PBS; subsequent miniseries appeared on Showtime.[21]

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 the Seattle Men's Chorus entitled Tunes From Tales (Music for Mouse), which included readings from his books and music from the era.[22]

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.[23]

Maybe the Moon and The Night Listener

Maupin wrote two novels, Maybe The Moon and The Night Listener, which are not part of Tales, 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.[24][25]

The Night Listener is a roman à clef, inspired by Maupin's experiences concerning the Anthony Godby Johnson hoax.[26][27][28][29] He says he wanted to create a psychological thriller, while being able to put autobiographical elements in it.[10] 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.[10] 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.[26]

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.[30] 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,"[31] 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."[32]

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.[33] It also features appearances by familiar Tales characters, such as Anna Madrigal.[34] 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."[15] He calls it "a smaller, more personal novel than I've written in the past."[33] The book was released on June 12, 2007, which was declared 'Michael Tolliver Day' by the mayor of San Francisco.[35][36]

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."[15]

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.[37] It was followed in January 2014 by The Days of Anna Madrigal, which Maupin says will be the final novel in the series.[38]

Personal life

Maupin (left) and his husband Christopher Turner at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival

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'"[26][39] 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.[19]

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),[40][41] and co-authored the screenplay for The Night Listener. He lived with Maupin in San Francisco and New Zealand.[42]

Ian McKellen is a friend and Christopher Isherwood was a mentor, friend, and influence as a writer.[43][44]

Maupin shares a grandfather with English singer Sarah Jane Morris.[10][45] He is an atheist.[46]

He enjoys doing public readings of his own works and has recorded them all as audiobooks.[47]

In 2012 Maupin purchased the home of shoe designers Lynne and Dennis Comeau in Tesuque, New Mexico.[48]

Maupin's life and work, and the settings and the themes therein, are the subject of the documentary The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin.[49]


Tales of the City

  • Tales of the City. New York: Harper & Row. 1978. ISBN 0-06-090654-5.
  • More Tales of the City. New York: Harper & Row. 1980. ISBN 0-06-090726-6.
  • Further Tales of the City. New York: Harper & Row. 1982. ISBN 0-06-014991-4.
  • Babycakes. New York: Harper & Row. 1984. ISBN 0-06-015262-1.
  • Significant Others. New York: Harper & Row. 1987. ISBN 0-06-096408-1.
  • Sure of You. New York: Harper & Row. 1989. ISBN 0-06-016164-7.
  • Michael Tolliver Lives. New York: HarperCollins. 2007. ISBN 978-0-06-076135-6.
  • Mary Ann in Autumn. New York: HarperCollins. 2010. ISBN 978-0-06-147088-2.
  • The Days of Anna Madrigal. New York: HarperCollins. 2014. ISBN 978-0-06-219624-8.

Other novels


  • Maupin, Armistead (2017). Logical Family: A Memoir. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 9780062391223. OCLC 1004769227.


  • 28 Barbary Lane: The Tales of the City Omnibus. New York: Harper Perennial. 2016. ISBN 978-0-06-249901-1. Contains Tales of the City, More Tales of the City, and Further Tales of the City.
  • Back to Barbary Lane: The Final Tales of the City Omnibus. New York: Harper Perennial. 2016. ISBN 978-0-06-256129-9. Contains Babycakes, Significant Others, and Sure of You.



  1. ^ a b "Armisted Maupin Biography". Biography (Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition). enotes. Retrieved February 23, 2015.
  2. ^ Armistead Jones Maupin, Jr., birth date 13 May 1944, Age 24, Military Date 5 May 1969 U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and Reserve Officers, published January 1970, record held in United States Military Registers, 1902–1985. Salem, Oregon: Oregon State Library.
  3. ^ Pronounced "Mawpin' as read in English, rather than rhyming with the French "Gauguin." "Armistead Maupin" is an anagram of 'Is a Man I Dreamt Up.' (Armistead Maupin Is a Man I Dreamt Up Archived February 13, 2006, at the Wayback Machine. was the title of a 1990 BBC documentary on him.) However, neither the name nor Maupin himself were actually 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". Archived from the original on February 13, 2006. Retrieved 2015-04-29..
  4. ^ "Armistead Maupin Bio". IMDb. Retrieved 3 December 2013.
  5. ^ "Armistead Maupin Biography". Retrieved 3 December 2013.
  6. ^ a b Maupin, Armistead (2017). Logical Family: A Memoir. London, U.K.: Penguin. p. 17. ISBN 9780857523518. That's Grandpa Branch. He was a Confederate general who died at Antietam.
  7. ^ Guthrie, Julian (July 30, 2005). "Armistead Jones Maupin -- father of 'Tales of City' author". The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved December 24, 2017.
  8. ^ a b c "'Growing up Gay in old Raleigh". Archived from the original on March 6, 2005. Retrieved 2017-04-07. – in The Independent of Raleigh, North Carolina, June 1988 – autobiographical memoir
  9. ^ a b c A Conversation with Author Armistead Maupin Archived December 5, 2007, at the Wayback Machine. – on KUOW-FM radio, 2007-06-19
  10. ^ a b c d e Armistead Maupin (October 24, 2000). "Audio interview by Bill Goldstein" (.RAM). New York Times (Interview). Interviewed by Bill Goldstein. Archived from the original on April 10, 2009.
  11. ^ "My First Glimpse of The City". Archived from the original on May 20, 2005. Retrieved 2017-04-07. – in Guest Informant, 1998–1999. Maupin recalls his first experiences of San Francisco.
  12. ^ He said he had "no sense of it being a gay mecca" and called it "this amazing city that embraced me, that had made me aware of my true self", and "what really floored me was that the straight folks in San Francisco were so civilised about homosexuality." (in the New York Times interview)
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ "Letter to Mama". Archived from the original on April 11, 2005. Retrieved 2017-04-07. – Michael Tolliver's coming out letter, a response in the book to his parents' participation in Anita Bryant's anti-gay Save Our Children campaign. Maupin used the letter to serve the same purpose for his own parents, who followed the Tales serial.
  15. ^ a b c d "Tolliver's Travels" Archived December 6, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. – Entertainment Weekly, June 7, 2007
  16. ^ a b "''Tales of the City'' graphic timeline". May 15, 2006. Archived from the original on May 15, 2006.
  17. ^
  18. ^ Charles Isherwood (30 January 2014). "Saying Goodbye to a City and Its Characters: 'The Days of Anna Madrigal,' Concluding 'Tales of the City'". The New York Times, Books of the Times. Retrieved 13 February 2014.
  19. ^ a b Scott, Kemble (April 23, 2007). "Armistead Maupin's Family Ties". Publishers Weekly. Archived from the original on April 29, 2007.
  20. ^ "Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City". BBC Online. Retrieved 21 May 2016.
  21. ^ "A Tale of the Seventies". Archived from the original on December 28, 2004. Retrieved 2017-04-07. TV Guide, January 1994. Article by Maupin about the difficult process of getting the Tales series into TV production.
  22. ^ "Seattle Men's Chorus welcomes Armistead Maupin to Benaroya Hall". October 6, 2003. Archived from the original on October 6, 2003.
  23. ^ Healy, Patrick (April 3, 2010). "Debut Is Announced for 'Tales of the City'". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-04-25.
  24. ^ "Behind the scenes: THE OUTSIDER". Archived from the original on March 4, 2006. Retrieved 2006-03-04.San Francisco Focus Magazine], October 1992. Interview with Maupin about his friendship with Tamara De Treaux.
  25. ^ "Reviews of ''Maybe the Moon'' and synopsis". March 4, 2006. Archived from the original on March 4, 2006.
  26. ^ a b c "Armistead Maupin: The quick-witted author mined his own experience for The Night Listener".
  27. ^ Paul Colichman Chief Executive Officer (August 17, 2012). "Interview at". Archived from the original on August 15, 2007.
  28. ^ Audio interview about The Night Listener Archived March 3, 2016, at the Wayback Machine. – on WHYY-FM, October 3, 2000
  29. ^ "'Suddenly Home'". Archived from the original on February 13, 2006. Retrieved 2017-04-07. – a story featuring the fictional characters in Noone at Night
  30. ^ "Oft Asked Questions". Literary Bent .com. February 13, 2006. Archived from the original on February 13, 2006.
  31. ^ Armistead Maupin (2007). "Michael Tolliver Lives". Retrieved 3 December 2013.
  32. ^ Bustin, Steve (10 June 2008). "I might well come back to Mr Tolliver one more time". Archived from the original on July 16, 2011.
  33. ^ a b "Armistead Maupin talks!" Archived December 3, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. –
  34. ^ "Sex and the city" – Interview in The Observer
  35. ^ "Latest Maupin tale tells of 'closet of age'". London: The Guardian.
  36. ^ "Reader, he married him" – Review in The Guardian
  37. ^ Salvatore, Joseph (November 12, 2010). "Book Review – Mary Ann in Autumn – By Armistead Maupin". The New York Times.
  38. ^ Isherwood, Charles (January 30, 2014). "Saying Goodbye to a City and Its Characters: 'The Days of Anna Madrigal,' Concluding 'Tales of the City'". The New York Times.
  39. ^ Christopher Turner (June 17, 2007). "Five Questions for Christopher Turner: Daddy-hunt site entrepreneur knows of which he posts". San Francisco Chronicle.
  40. ^ Remarks for the Closing Ceremonies Archived July 30, 2016, at the Wayback Machine. of the Gay Games IV, Yankee Stadium, June 25, 1994. On
  41. ^ "Armistead Maupin". Archived from the original on August 16, 2002. Retrieved 2017-04-07. at the National AIDS Memorial Grove, located in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park
  42. ^ "Audio interview about Maupin's New Zealand home". August 3, 2004. Archived from the original on June 24, 2007.
  43. ^ ""The First Couple: Don Bachardy and Christopher Isherwood"". Archived from the original on March 5, 2006. Retrieved 2017-04-07. – Armistead Maupin interviews Christopher Isherwood for The Village Voice, Volume 30, Number 16
  44. ^ "Foreword to 'The Isherwood Century'". March 5, 2006. Archived from the original on March 5, 2006.
  45. ^ Morris, Sarah Jane. "Naughties Overview". Retrieved March 12, 2014.
  46. ^ Thompson, Stephen (October 9, 2002). "Is There A God?". The AV Club. Retrieved May 8, 2015.
  47. ^ "Armistead Maupin narrator". Recorded Books. Archived from the original on December 6, 2013. Retrieved December 3, 2013.
  48. ^ "Santa Fe New Mexican", October 14, 2012.
  49. ^ The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin
  50. ^ Gilmore, Sue (August 5, 2007). "Maupin Up for Another Award". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved 2007-10-10.
  51. ^ Ward, David (May 11, 2006). "Chronicler of San Francisco wins best gay read award". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2007-10-10.
  52. ^ "Armistead Maupin – The Night Listener: Product Features". Retrieved 2007-10-10.
  53. ^ "Armistead Maupin". imdb. Retrieved 2007-10-10.

Further reading

  • Gale, Patrick. Armistead Maupin. Bath, Somerset, England: Absolute Press, 1999. ISBN 1-899791-37-X

External links

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