Pulp Novel Gallery

In the United States during the 1950s and 60s there was a major trend in publishing (by a number of small and large publishers) towards the production of short, cheaply produced novels that dealt with illicit themes, known affectionately today as “pulp fiction” because of the cheap, recycled paper on which they were often printed.

Many of these pulp novels were westerns, romances (the ubiquitous Harlequin books began publication in 1949), and thrillers, featuring hardboiled detectives and exotic settings, and they often included brash, tough talking characters in melodramatic situations.  The books were widely available at newsstands and drugstores throughout the country, and most often they were sold for under $1, making them cheap enough to be disposable.

Like comic books, pulps were permitted greater freedom than titles within mainstream publishing and were less subject to censorship because they were not taken particularly seriously, but unlike comic books they were made primarily for adults, and while there was some backlash to their existence (in the form of an investigation by a U.S. House of Representatives committee in 1953), they did not incite the same moral panic in the name of protecting the youth.

Within the pulp genre there were a great many titles that fell into a still more prurient and licentious category, referred to in general as “sleaze”.  These books were erotically charged, and they were willing to depict and make use of sexual practices and behaviors that were well outside the established, acceptable mainstream, including homosexuality (particularly lesbianism) and situations and themes in common with both modern BDSM and modern polyamory.

Cover_of_Women's_Barracks_by_Tereska_Torrès_1950

Lesbian sleaze books were marketed to a male audience and made with them in mind, and most were written by men who used female pen names or by heterosexual women, but in the 1980s they experienced a renewed popularity with lesbian women as examples of an unfortunately scant popular literature in which they were depicted.  The earliest of these, Women’s Barracks by Tereska Torrès (1950), was wildly popular, selling over 4 million copies, and it demonstrated a market that prompted the production of a few hundred such titles over the next 15 years.


By Publisher:

Midwood

(1957-1968) | Wikipedia


Beacon


Gold Medal

1950-1951 | Wikipedia


Pyramid

Wikipedia


Monarch

1960-1964 | Wikipedia

Bibliography (The Internet Speculative Fiction Database)


Miscellaneous Publishers


Covers with Original Artwork:

Adam and Two Eves [Beacon B152] (1956)
Walter Popp

Never Love a Man by Dominique Napier [Beacon B511] (1962)
Darcy (Ernest Chiriaka)

Different by Dorene Clark [Beacon B311] (1960)
Bruce Minney

Teen-Age Terror by Wenzell Brown [Gold Medal S734] (1958)
James Meese

Girls’ Dormitory by Joan Ellis [Midwood F343] (1963)
Paul Rader

The Sisterhood by Sheldon Lord [Beacon Signal Sixty B659X] (1963)
unknown

Three of a Kind by P.J. Wolfson [Berkley G-85] (1957)
Charles Copeland

The Blonde by Peggy Swenson [Midwood 56] (1960)
Paul Rader

By Love Depraved by Arthur Adlon [Beacon B457F] (1961)
Darcy (Ernest Chiriaka)

Voluptuous Voyage by Dallas Mayo [Midwood F198] (1961)
Bruce Minney


All of the images on this page are in the public domain
and available at Wikimedia Commons.