Hansen was born in 1923 in Aberdeen, South Dakota, and grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Altadena, California.
Although he published almost forty books in a wide variety of genres, Hansen is best remembered for his ground breaking series of crime novels starring his most iconic creation, Dave Brandstetter, an openly homosexual private eye who still embodied the tough, no-nonsense personality of the classic hardboiled protagonist. His first adventure, Fadeout, was published in 1970, and over the next twenty-one years eleven more entries in the series were written: Death Claims (1973), Troublemaker (1975), The Man Everybody Was Afraid Of (1978), Skinflick (1979), Gravedigger (1982), Nightwork (1984), The Little Dog Laughed (1986), Early Graves (1987), Obedience (1988), The Boy Who Was Buried This Morning (1990), and A Country of Old Men (1991). No Exit Books, a British publisher, issued an omnibus volume, The Complete Brandstetter, in 2007.
Hansen published his first work, a poem, in The New Yorker, in 1952. He also published poetry in other magazines, briefly sang with a folk-music-group on a California radio-station, and had several part-time jobs in bookstores and magazines.
At the beginning of his career as a novelist, Hansen wrote under the pseudonym James Colton or James Coulton, producing novels such as Strange Marriage and Known Homosexual. He also wrote two gothic novels under the pseudonym Rose Brock (Longleaf and Tarn House).
Joseph Hansen, 1994, by Robert Giard
Joseph Hansen was an American crime writer and poet, best known for a series of novels featuring private eye Dave Brandstetter. At the beginning of his career as a novelist, Hansen wrote under the pseudonym James Colton or James Coulton, producing novels such as Strange Marriage and Known Homosexual. Hansen was married to artist Jane Bancroft, a lesbian, from 1943 to her death in 1994. He said their relationship was that of "a gay man and a woman who happened to love each other." The couple had one daughter, who later had a sex-change operation.
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)Hansen was also noted for writing poems, teaching workshops, and hosting a 1960s radio-show called Homosexuality Today. In 1970, he helped to found the first Gay Pride Parade in Hollywood. Hansen disliked the term "gay" and always described himself as "homosexual".
Hansen won the 1992 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Private Eye Writers of America, as well as a Lambda Literary Award for Gay Men's Mystery from the Lambda Literary Foundation for A Country of Old Men: The Last Dave Brandstetter Mystery (1991).
Hansen was married to artist Jane Bancroft, a lesbian, from 1943 to her death in 1994. He said their relationship was that of "a gay man and a woman who happened to love each other." The couple had one daughter, who later had a sex-change operation. According to a friend quoted in an obituary, Hansen also had two long-term male lovers.
Hansen died from heart failure in 2004 at his home in Laguna Beach, California.
I also love the David Brandsetter series by Joseph Hansen. This series feels to me as if someone took my name and number, asked me what I like to read in a book, went home, and wrote it just for me. I can’t describe it any better. Hansen’s “flavor” is very similar to one of my all-time favorite writers, Joan Didion. Something about the way they perceive things, I think, the types of observations that they make speak to me. I read a lot of Didion’s essays and in one that I think of often she describes the feeling of shock that permeated Los Angeles around the time of the Manson Family murders. There are a lot of things about living in Los Angeles in the sixities and seventies that color your perceptions and I think it’s a zeitgeist or something with writers like Isherwood, Didion and Hansen. The first in the Brandsetter series was “Fadeout”. --Z.A. MaxfieldDays 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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