Philip Sparrow Tells All: Lost Essays by Samuel Steward, Writer, Professor, Tattoo Artist (Paperback)
  • Philip Sparrow Tells All: Lost Essays by Samuel Steward, Writer, Professor, Tattoo Artist (Paperback)
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Philip Sparrow Tells All: Lost Essays by Samuel Steward, Writer, Professor, Tattoo Artist (Paperback)

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£15.00
Paperback 256 Pages / Published: 05/01/2016
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Samuel Steward (1909-93) was an English professor, a tattoo artist for the Hells Angels, a sexual adventurer who shared his considerable range of experiences with Alfred Kinsey, and a prolific writer of everything from scholarly articles to gay erotica (under the penname Phil Andros). Given this biography, he sounds like a most unlikely contributor to a trade magazine like the Illinois Dental Journal. Yet from 1944 to 1949, writing under the name Philip Sparrow, Steward produced monthly columns for the journal that were full of wit and flourish and that constituted a kind of disguised autobiography, with their reflections on his friendships and experiences and their endless allusions to his trove of multifarious knowledge. For Philip Sparrow Tells All, Jeremy Mulderig has gathered thirty of Steward's most playful and insightful columns, which together paint a vivid portrait of 1940s America. In these essays we spend time with Steward's friends like Gertrude Stein, Andre Gide, and Thornton Wilder (who was also Steward's occasional lover). We hear of his stint as a holiday sales clerk at Marshall Field's (where he met and seduced Rock Hudson), his roles as an opera and ballet extra in hilariously shoddy costumes, his hoarding tendencies, his disappointment with the drabness of men's fashions, and his dread of turning forty. We go along with him to a bodybuilding competition and a pet cemetery, and together we wander the boulevards of Paris and the alleys of Algiers. Throughout, Mulderig's entertaining annotations identify Steward's often obscure allusions and tie the essays to the people and events of the day. Many decades later, Steward's writing feels as stylistically fresh and charming as it did in his time. With richly detailed introductions to the essays that situate them in the context of Steward's fascinating life, Philip Sparrow Tells All will bring this unusual and engaging writer to a fresh readership beyond the dental chair.

Publisher: The University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 9780226304687
Number of pages: 256
Weight: 363 g
Dimensions: 226 x 150 x 18 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
"This remarkable collection assembles Steward's essays for an unlikely venue: the Illinois Dental Journal. Steward, a once-neglected figure in queer history, palled around with Gertrude Stein, kept a 'stud file' of his sexual conquests, and ran a successful tattoo parlor catering to sailors. In 1944, he was asked by his dentist, the journal's editor, to write a column providing a 'worm's-eye view' of dentistry. The essays that followed, under the pen name Philip Sparrow, were elegantly constructed, bitingly funny, and likely to be utterly baffling to the original readership--particularly the coded gay references."--Publishers Weekly, starred review
"I suspected, for a moment, that Philip Sparrow Tells All was a prank, either by the University of Chicago Press or on it. The essays of a tattoo artist recovered from 70-year-old issues of the Illinois Dental Journal? Come on. . . . With the measure of safety provided by a pseudonym--and also by the less-than-mass circulation of the Illinois Dental Journal--Steward experimented with the comic, personal and confessional modes of the casual essay in ways that might have been difficult to risk otherwise."--Times Higher Education
"Talent plus obscurity in a research subject mix to make an irresistible cocktail for almost any scholar. Samuel Steward (1909-1993), also known by his pen name and alter ego 'Philip Sparrow, ' possesses both in intoxicating quantities, making it easy to see why editor Jeremy Mulderig has worked so hard to bring this figure further into the light in Philip Sparrow Tells All: Lost Essays by Samuel Steward, Writer, Professor, Tattoo Artist. . . . The collection is well worth reading, both for the quality of writing in the essays themselves and for the importance of Steward as a figure who stands as a key rediscovery for Chicago's history in particular and for LGBTQ history in general."
--Chicago Tribune
"At first blush, these essays may seem like gay esoterica, exemplary bits of camp. But they're more than that. Mr. Mulderig saw fit to gather and annotate them because they are very good--a curious mix of frivolity and erudition, peacockery and restraint. They're a lost chronicle from a one-of-a-kind writer who spent five years hiding in plain sight. . . . Seductive and entertaining."
--New York Times
"How wonderful that Mulderig has reclaimed these lost gems of gay writing. The personal essays in this collection are written from a queer perspective at a time when censorship and homophobia were rampant. It is all the more remarkable considering they were published in the obscure Illinois Dental Journal between the years of 1944 and 1949. . . . Be it a sensitive prophecy of the difficulties soldiers will have reintegrating into American society after World War II or a humorous take on male fashion, Steward's range of subject matter is impressive."
--Lambda Literary
"Fans of Samuel Steward will pounce upon Phil Sparrow Tells All, which brings forth from near-total obscurity 30 of the 50 essays Steward wrote between 1944-49 for, get this, the Illinois Dental Journal. . . . Each essay is entertainingly introduced by editor Mulderig, an Emeritus Professor of English at the DePaul University. As Steward plays peek-a-boo with the reader, Mulderig annotates the gay subtext. Between the editor and the author, erudition is all over the place. All told, these essays reconfirm Steward's important place in 20th-century gay literature."
--Bay Area Reporter

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