“Whatever else will be said about her—and you can bet there will be plenty, because Barbara was no stranger to controversy—the one thing that is true above all else is that she was the most important person in lesbian publishing in the world. Without her boldness and her audacity, there might not be the robust lesbian publishing industry there is today.”
Barbara Grier—feminist, activist, publisher, and archivist—was many things to different people. Perhaps most well known as one of the founders of Naiad Press, Barbara’s unapologetic drive to make sure that lesbians everywhere had access to books with stories that reflected their lives in positive ways was legendary. Barbara changed the lives of thousands of women in her lifetime.
For the first time, historian Joanne Passet uncovers the controversial and often polarizing life of this firebrand editor and publisher with new and never before published letters, interviews, and other personal material from Grier’s own papers. Passet takes readers behind the scenes of The Ladder, offering a rare window onto the isolated and bereft lives lesbians experienced before the feminist movement and during the earliest days of gay political organizing. Through extensive letters between Grier and her friend novelist Jane Rule, Passet offers a virtual diary of this dramatic and repressive era. Passet also looks at Grier’s infamous “theft” of The Ladder’s mailing list, which in turn allowed her to launch and promote Naiad Press, the groundbreaking women’s publishing company she founded with partner Donna McBride in 1973. Naiad went on to become one of the leaders in gay and lesbian book publishing and for years helped sustain lesbian and feminist bookstores—and readers—across the country.
JOANNE PASSET is Professor of History Emerita at Indiana University East. Her previous books include Sex Variant Woman: The Life of Jeannette Howard Foster, Sex Radicals and the Quest for Women’s Equality, Cultural Crusaders: Women Librarians in the American West, and Aspirations and Mentoring in an Academic Environment (with Mary Niles Maack).
GCLS Goldie Awards
INDOMITABLE: The Life of Barbara Grier — Winner, Creative Non-Fiction.
Lambda Literary Foundation
INDOMITABLE: The Life of Barbara Grier — Finalist, Lesbian Memoir/Biography.
San Francisco Book Festival
INDOMITABLE: The Life of Barbara Grier — Honorable Mention, Biography/Autobiography/Memoir.
The force of nature that was Barbara Grier in all her glorious and inglorious complexity emerges from this extensively researched, brilliant portrait of a major creator of the lesbian community in America. Filled with fascinating tales and revelations of Grier's literary and political contemporaries, it educates, entertains, illuminates. Indomitable is a publishing event of the very first order, destined for the highest shelf of permanent LGBT literature. – Katherine V. Forrest
Writing the life story of a person as influential, determined, and charismatic as Barbara Grier requires a biography of equal talent. In Indomitable: The Life of Barbara Grier, Joanne Passet meets and exceeds that standard. Thoroughly researched and beautifully written, Indomitable is breathtaking in both its ambitions and execution. Buy this book and revel in Grier’s story. – Julie R. Enszer
A biography of Barbara Grier is of necessity a partial herstory of lesbian writing and women's publishing. Joanne E. Passet has done an exceptional job of exploring all three. Grier is presented as her full technicolor, 3D, surround sound self. With sensitivity and respect, Passet portrays this great woman who changed, for the better, every lesbian life in the U.S. and beyond. As Grier intended, and with Donna McBride ever at her side, her promotion of lesbian literature freed generations of women to recognize, acknowledge and celebrate their true selves. In this biography that is a treat to read, Passet has enriched us all with careful, persistent research that remembers and honors Barbara Grier, a larger than life heroine who led the literary charge into gay liberation. – Lee Lynch
Lambda Literary Review
Writing the life story of a person as influential, determined, and charismatic as Barbara Grier requires a biographer of equal talent. In Indomitable: The Life of Barbara Grier, Joanne Passet meets and exceeds that standard. Thoroughly researched and beautifully written, Indomitable is breathtaking in both its ambitions and execution.
The Lesbian Review
The book is non-fiction, but certainly not dry. I found the account of Grier’s life and motivations to be gripping reading, especially as someone who is interested in the history of lesbian publishing. It is incredibly well-researched with pages upon pages of notes, many of which spring from Grier’s prodigious correspondence. This is a must-read for anyone who has any curiosity for the history of lesfic as a genre.