elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,
elisa_rolle
elisa_rolle

Michael Grumley & Robert Ferro

Robert Ferro (October 21, 1941 - July 11, 1988) was an American novelist whose semi-autobiographical fiction explored the uneasy integration of homosexuality and traditional American upper-middle-class values.

He was born in Hoboken, New Jersey, on October 21, 1941. The son of Michael and Gae Panzera Ferro, he was raised in nearby Cranford, New Jersey, with his siblings Michael Jr., Camille, and Beth. While his father was born in America, Ferro's mother had immigrated in 1914 from Italy, a country that would figure prominently in her son’s life and writings.

Ferro attended public school in Cranford and in 1963 received a BA in English from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. After graduation, determined to become a writer, he lived for a year in Florence, Italy, where he studied Italian and wrote fiction. Ferro enrolled at the Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa in the fall of 1965; there he studied with the Chilean novelist Jose Donoso and earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing in 1967. During his final semester at Iowa, Ferro met Michael Grumley (1941-1988), also a student at the Writers' Workshop, and the two began a two-decade-long personal and professional partnership. Known to their friends as “the Ferro-Grumleys,” the couple lived primarily on New York’s Upper West Side, but also spent extended periods of time in Rome and London. The Ferro family owned an oceanfront home at Sea Girt, New Jersey, which was a place that held particular significance for Robert Ferro: he named the house with a double entendre, “Gaewyck,” and designed extensive improvement campaigns for the property. As recorded in Michael Grumley’s engagement calendars and daily journals, the pair regularly stayed at the shore house, where they gardened, cooked, read books, and entertained friends and family, while still carving out time to work on their writing projects.


During his final semester at Iowa, Robert Ferro met Michael Grumley, also a student at the Writers' Workshop, and the two began a two-decade-long personal and professional partnership. Known to their friends as “the Ferro-Grumleys,” the couple lived primarily on New York’s Upper West Side. Robert Ferro died of AIDS a few months after his partner, Michael Grumley, in 1988. Their estate helped founding the prestigious Ferro-Grumley Award to honor culture-driving fiction from LGBT points of view.



Michael Grumley and Robert Ferro were affiliated with a literary group known as the Violet Quill, whose seven members, as men writing for men, are regarded as one of the strongest collective voices of the gay male experience in the post-Stonewall era. Authors Christopher Cox, Andrew Holleran, Felice Picano, Edmund White, George Whitmore, Ferro, and Grumley met several times in 1979, 1980, and 1981 to read aloud from their works in progress. Also on the agenda were discussions of how they could work together to promote recognition, acceptance, and publication of gay literature beyond the boundaries of their own community. Of the VQ writers, Michael Grumley and Robert Ferro were the first to die from AIDS-related complications, both at age 46 in 1988, Grumley on April 28 and Ferro on July 11; they were followed by Whitmore in 1989 and Cox in 1990.

During the 1980s Ferro gave several interviews occasioned by specific book releases, but because his novels were conceived as a cycle, he generally touched upon them all. To his interviewers he spoke openly about the effect his writings had on his family, in particular his father, who was loving and accepting of his son in private life, but became upset when the family’s storyline was exposed to the public in print. The death of Gae Ferro from cancer in 1979 was also a pivotal point in the family dynamic, which was further stressed when her death precipitated discussions about selling the Sea Girt property. In interviews, Ferro also talked about the external forces that affected his work, including the state of literature, specifically gay literature, and the looming AIDS crisis then beginning to decimate his own and the larger cultural communities. By the end of his life, Ferro was aware of his place in all those worlds, and expressed his belief that one great value gay writers brought to fiction was truth; having already struggled their way out of the closet, there was little left to fear and much to celebrate in prose. As he observed in one of his final interviews, published in the San Francisco Sentinel a few months before his death,
I understand now that I’m a part of a very important movement in American literature. We are an army of people writing a way of life and writing a history.
Robert Ferro knew he was suffering from AIDS when he wrote his last novel, "Second Son," published by Crown Publishers. It tells of the romance between two men with AIDS. Robert Ferro's companion of 20 years, Michael Grumley, had died of AIDS few weeks prior to the release of the book.

He died of AIDS a few months after his partner, Michael Grumley, at his father's home in Ho-Ho-Kus, N.J., in 1988. Robert and Michael are buried together under the Ferro-Grumley memorial in Rockland Cemetery in Sparkill, NY.

Their estate helped founding The Ferro-Grumley Award to honor culture-driving fiction from LGBT points of view and to expose a diverse public to this work through reading, panels and discussions. The prestigious award is given out every year. www.ferrogrumley.org

Robert Ferro and Michael Grumley published one novel together in 1970 titled "Atlantis: The Autobiography of a Search" about their true-life adventure from Rome, Italy through to New Jersey and onward to the Caribbean aboard their boat, "The Tana" in search of the Lost City, which they claim to have discovered.

Books
The others. Scribner. 1977. ISBN 0684151375.
The family of Max Desir. Dutton. 1983. ISBN 0525241973.
The blue star. Plume. 1985. ISBN 0452258197.
Second son. Crown. 1988. ISBN 0517568152.

Source: http://drs.library.yale.edu:8083/HLTransformer/HLTransServlet?stylename=yul.ead2002.xhtml.xsl&pid=beinecke:ferro&query=whiting&clear-stylesheet-cache=yes&hlon=yes&filter=&hitPageStart=226
I‘ve just reread The Blue Star, Robert Ferro‘s third novel —or his second-to last, to use a method of ordering that felt inescapable in the year when the novel came out, 1985. It was a time when all the young gay authors I knew were thinking that their next books might well be their last. Robert certainly thought that; he told so me many times, when working on Second Son, a thoughtful and surprisingly entertaining AIDS novel that appeared in 1988, the year Robert died of the disease just six weeks after his partner of many years, the novelist Michael Grumley, died of it, too. For Robert, I think, Second Son had to be about AIDS. He was constantly sick by then, and the prospect of his death was too momentous to leave unexplored. The Blue Star, on the other hand, seems about life and the forces that drive it, unhaunted by "a death out of order," which is how Robert referred to AIDS fatalities.
[...]
Some might have thought Robert a control freak, but he was really a perfectionist, attentive to the smallest detail, like the placement of an amethyst-glass vase on a windowsill in the beach house in Sea Girt, New Jersey, that Robert and Michael often shared with friends on weekends. That house — another story, I‘m afraid — had been his mother‘s, and its maintenance as an idyllic escape for himself and loved ones was one of Robert‘s greatest pleasures and perhaps one of his greatest achievements. The walls of the downstairs powder room were specially muraled with stone arches and a tranquil blue sea, just like the book cover.
That house helped make The Blue Star possible, in a big way. He often went there to work, and completed large portions of all his later novels there. Moreover, Robert had a talent for living well, which deeply informed the voluptuous living in his novels — the kind of good living that is sacramental, not consumerist. Robert and Michael traveled with their own bed sheets, for instance, just in case, because one has certain standards. Lots of people have written about the legendary tea salons the boys hosted at their West 95th Street apartment — again, another story, except to mention that the teas seem, in retrospect, to have taken place in a kind of temple: the long living room of the boys‘ graciously-proportioned, pre-War apartment, made even more palatial by a pair of towering faux marbre columns that Robert had installed at great expense.
Those salons were always packed with cultural luminaries, gay and otherwise, and it was at one of them that Robert first told me of the new book he was writing.
"It‘s going to be beautiful, Muzzy, if I can just pull it off," he said in a whisper. "But let‘s not speak of it here, among these people." --Stephen Greco, The Lost Library, Gay Fiction Rediscovered

Robert Ferro, 1985, by Robert Giard (http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/dl_crosscollex/brbldl_getrec.asp?fld=img&id=1123782)
American photographer Robert Giard is renowned for his portraits of American poets and writers; his particular focus was on gay and lesbian writers. Some of his photographs of the American gay and lesbian literary community appear in his groundbreaking book Particular Voices: Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers, published by MIT Press in 1997. Giard’s stated mission was to define the literary history and cultural identity of gays and lesbians for the mainstream of American society, which perceived them as disparate, marginal individuals possessing neither. In all, he photographed more than 600 writers. (http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/digitallibrary/giard.html)


The illustrator and writer Michael Grumley (July 6, 1942 - April 28, 1988) was born in Davenport, Iowa, on July 6, 1941, and raised in nearby Bettendorf, Iowa, with his three brothers Charles, Terry, and Timothy. He attended the University of Denver and Mexico City College before earning a BA degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1964, after which he took a seasonal position with the Johnson's Wax Pavilion at the New York World's Fair. He returned to work at the fair the next summer, and when it closed in October 1965, Grumley applied to City College of the City University of New York for graduate study in literature. He enrolled at CUNY in January in 1966, but transferred in February 1967 to the Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa, where he studied writing with Kurt Vonnegut and took film courses. While at Iowa Grumley met fellow Workshop student Robert Ferro (1941-1988; MFA 1967), and by semester's end, the two had begun their life together. Known to their friends as "the Ferro-Grumleys," the couple lived primarily on New York's Upper West Side for twenty years, but also spent periods of time in Rome and London. Another favorite place was the Ferro family's oceanfront home in Sea Girt, New Jersey, where they regularly entertained friends and family. (Picture: Robert Ferro, NYC., by Robert Giard, 1985, Source: Particular Voices: Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers, Location: Stephen A. Schwarzman Building / Photography Collection, Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, Rights Notice: Copyright Jonathan G. Silin.)

During the early 1980s Grumley worked part-time at Endicott Booksellers, a neighborhood store, otherwise devoting much of his energy to his research and writing projects. Four of his five published books dealt with disparate topics, but all explored alternative theories and lifestyles. The first, Atlantis: The Autobiography of a Search (Doubleday, 1970), was co-written with Robert Ferro, and presented a dual first-person narrative of their trip to the Bahamas in the Ferro family's yacht. His second, also for Doubleday, was There are Giants in the Earth (1974), a study of legends surrounding Bigfoot (Sasquatch). Grumley provided the text to accompany Ed Gallucci's photographs for Hard Corps: Studies in Leather and Sadomasochism (Dutton, 1977). His After Midnight (Scribner, 1978) profiled a group of people employed on night shifts, including workers in a zoo, hospital, baby powder factory, and on a shrimp boat. Grumley wrote reviews and essays for periodicals such as Stagebill , Philadelphia Gay News , and New York Native , where his weekly column, "Uptown," was regularly featured between 1980 and 1984. Additionally, he contributed illustrations to a number of publications such as Black Men/White Men: a Gay Anthology (Gay Sunshine Press, 1983). His final work, Life Drawing: a novel (Grove Weidenfeld, 1991) was published posthumously.

Michael Grumley and Robert Ferro were affiliated with a literary group known as the Violet Quill, whose seven members, as men writing for men, are regarded as one of the strongest collective voices of the gay male experience in the post-Stonewall era. Authors Christopher Cox, Andrew Holleran, Felice Picano, Edmund White, George Whitmore, Ferro, and Grumley met several times in 1979, 1980, and 1981 to read aloud from their works in progress. Also on the agenda were discussions of how they could work together to promote recognition, acceptance, and publication of gay literature beyond the boundaries of their own community. Of the VQ writers, Michael Grumley and Robert Ferro were the first to die from AIDS-related complications, both in 1988 at age 46, Grumley on April 28 and Ferro on July 11; they were followed by Whitmore in 1989 and Cox in 1990.

Source: http://drs.library.yale.edu:8083/HLTransformer/HLTransServlet?stylename=yul.ead2002.xhtml.xsl&pid=beinecke:grumley&query=Michael Grumley&clear-stylesheet-cache=yes&hlon=yes&filter=&hitPageStart=1
AIDS did not just kill the brilliant writers and artists whose names we know. AIDS also killed the literary agents and the editors and the publicists and the audiences that nurtured and supported those artists, and in the process an overwhelming amount of art and talent has been lost. In a very real sense, Michael Grumley is part of a lost generation, and Life Drawing is only one more casualty in a tragic war whose death toll continues to mount.
[...]
The estates of Michael Grumley and his lover, Robert Ferro, endowed the annual Ferro-Grumley Awards for queer writers, which, since 1989, has honored the best of queer lit, including such luminaries as Edmund White, Christopher Bram, Sarah Schulman, and Felice Picano. Life Drawing survives to move readers in ways at once more ineffable and more devastating than the mainstream emotional juggernauts. It's a sketch, a simple thing, really, but no less moving for being simple. Life Drawing has the same slow emotional impact of fireworks bursting over a suburban golf course or the sight of a boat on a river at dusk, dark against the bright sky. --Sam J. Miller, The Lost Library

Michael Grumley, 1985, by Robert Giard
American photographer Robert Giard is renowned for his portraits of American poets and writers; his particular focus was on gay and lesbian writers. Some of his photographs of the American gay and lesbian literary community appear in his groundbreaking book Particular Voices: Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers, published by MIT Press in 1997. Giard’s stated mission was to define the literary history and cultural identity of gays and lesbians for the mainstream of American society, which perceived them as disparate, marginal individuals possessing neither. In all, he photographed more than 600 writers. (http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/digitallibrary/giard.html)


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)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1500563323
ISBN-13: 978-1500563325
CreateSpace Store: https://www.createspace.com/4910282
Amazon (Paperback): http://www.amazon.com/dp/1500563323/?tag=elimyrevandra-20
Amazon (Kindle): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MZG0VHY/?tag=elimyrevandra-20

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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Tags: author: michael grumley, author: robert ferro, days of love, particular voices
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