Tereska Torrés, a French writer who "accidentally" wrote the first lesbian pulp fiction novel in the U.S., died on Thursday at age 92.
Torrés was best-known for Women's Barracks, first published by Gold Medal books in 1950. The novel is a fictionalized account of Torrés' personal secretarial service in the London division of the Free French Forces during World War II. The story features both same-sex and opposite-sex relationships, but in mid-century America, it was the lesbian relationships that were seized upon in reviews and even Congressional hearings.
The book was banned in Canada and was condemned by the American House Select Committee on Current Pornographic Materials in 1952, reports The New York Times.
"Women's Barracks really launched the modern genre of the lesbian paperback, Susan Stryker told The Times. "It paved the way for the next entry into the genre, which was Vin Packer's Spring Fire."
Born to Polish Jewish parents living in France, Torrés and her family fled the country when Nazi forces occupied the nation, ultimately seeking asylum in London, where she enlisted as a secretary in the Free French Forces.
While Torrés herself was twice married to men, she told Salon in 2005 that Women's Barracks reflected the relationships of women serving in the armed forces during WWII.
"The book spoke very delicately about the few matters of sexual encounters," Torrés said. "But so what? I hadn't invented anything — that's the way women lived during the war in London. I thought I had written a very innocent book. I thought, these Americans, they are easily shocked."