Wilhelm was born in Eugene, Oregon of Ethel Gale Brewer and Wilson Price Wilhelm in 1908. She was the youngest of five children, educated in Oregon, Idaho, and Washington. The family moved to San Francisco, California when Wilhelm was a teenager.
Wilhelm published several short stories in 1934 and 1935, her first appearing in Literary America. With the assistance of a literary agent, Wilhelm published We Too Are Drifting in 1935 by Random House, to many favorable reviews.
In 1938, Random House published Torchlight to Valhalla, another lesbian-themed novel in which the protagonist, a young woman, is pursued by a very handsome and charming young man, but realizes her true happiness is with another young woman.
Wilhelm wrote three more novels, Bring Home the Bride in 1940, The Time Between in 1942 and Never Let Me Go in 1945, all with heterosexual themes. Never Let Me Go included praise from Wilhelm's friend Carl Sandburg on the book jacket.
Wilhelm also published stories in Colliers and Yale Review in the early 1940s, but didn't publish anything new after 1943. However, both Wilhelm's lesbian themed books were reprinted many times in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. Torchlight to Valhalla was given a new name, The Strange Path, with a rather salacious cover in 1953.
Gale Wilhelm and Helen Hope Rudolph Page
Gale Wilhelm was an American writer noted for two books that featured lesbian themes written in the 1930s: We Too Are Drifting and Torchlight to Valhalla. Wilhelm lived with Helen Hope Rudolph Page in San Francisco from 1938 until Page's death in the late 1940s. She lived with Kathleen Huebner from 1953 until Wilhelm's death in 1991 of cancer. Barbara Grier speculated that Wilhelm stopped writing before she turned 40 years old because "the world would not let her write the books she wanted."
In 1975, Torchlight to Valhalla was reprinted by Arno Press's library edition of Homosexuality: Lesbians and Gay Men in Society, History and Literature.
Wilhelm lived with Helen Hope Rudolph Page in San Francisco from 1938 until Page's death in the late 1940s. Barbara Grier spent several years attempting to locate Wilhelm. The 1984 Naiad Press edition of We Too Are Drifting included a foreword by Grier describing Wilhelm's life and pleading for any assistance from anyone who knew any information on the whereabouts of Wilhelm. By the time Naiad published Torchlight to Valhalla in 1985, it contained a foreword by Wilhelm herself, information given to Grier by an anonymous source. Grier speculated that Wilhelm stopped writing before she turned 40 years old because "the world would not let her write the books she wanted."
She lived with Kathleen Huebner from 1953 until Wilhelm's death in 1991 of cancer.
The concept of the “tragic” male invert was so pliable that Americans Charles Henri Ford and Parker Tyler, in their 1933 The Young and the Evil, made him the center of a quirky, madcap romance. Published in Paris because of its blithe acceptance of homosexual sex and comic tone, the novel was banned for years in the United States and Great Britain, where customs offices confiscated and burned copies. Lesbian and gay male themes also surfaced in popular American novels, such as Nella Larsen’s 1929 Passing and Blair Niles’s 1931 Strange Brother, both set in Harlem, and Gale Wilhelm’s critically acclaimed We Too Are Drifting (1934) and Torchlight to Valhalla (1938). Gay male themes were prevalent in lowbrow novels, such as André Tellier’s 1931 Twilight Men and Lew Levenson’s 1934 Butterfly Man, but also in more literary works, such as Kay Boyle’s 1933 Gentlemen, I Address You Privately and Djuna Barnes’s 1936 Nightwood. --Bronski, Michael (2011-05-10). A Queer History of the United States (Revisioning American History) (Kindle Locations 2727-2738). Beacon Press. Kindle Edition.
Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time by Elisa Rolle
Paperback: 760 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (July 1, 2014)
Amazon: Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time
Days of Love chronicles more than 700 LGBT couples throughout history, spanning 2000 years from Alexander the Great to the most recent winner of a Lambda Literary Award. Many of the contemporary couples share their stories on how they met and fell in love, as well as photos from when they married or of their families. Included are professional portraits by Robert Giard and Stathis Orphanos, paintings by John Singer Sargent and Giovanni Boldini, and photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnson, Arnold Genthe, and Carl Van Vechten among others. “It's wonderful. Laying it out chronologically is inspired, offering a solid GLBT history. I kept learning things. I love the decision to include couples broken by death. It makes clear how important love is, as well as showing what people have been through. The layout and photos look terrific.” Christopher Bram “I couldn’t resist clicking through every page. I never realized the scope of the book would cover centuries! I know that it will be hugely validating to young, newly-emerging LGBT kids and be reassured that they really can have a secure, respected place in the world as their futures unfold.” Howard Cruse “This international history-and-photo book, featuring 100s of detailed bios of some of the most forward-moving gay persons in history, is sure to be one of those bestsellers that gay folk will enjoy for years to come as reference and research that is filled with facts and fun.” Jack Fritscher
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