The Violet Quill
“In November 1980, New York’s SoHo Weekly News tagged a cover story Fag Lit’s New Royalty, referring to Andrew Holleran, Felice Picano, and Edmund White, alive today, and Christopher Cox, Michael Grumley, Robert Ferro, and George Whitmore, who have died. Since the publication of that story, which was subtitled A Moveable Brunch – A Fag Lit Mafia,they have brought out the best in admirers and the worst in detractors.
Collectively the seven authors became known as The Violet Quill, meeting only eight times between March 31, 1980 and March 3, 1981. They had a sample “reader” published, emerging later as titans of gay male literature. Their sexual affairs with each other were labyrinth but not unusual in New York City at the time.
Although their status as individuals in gay literature has never been creditably challenged, the Quill’s crowning as an influential group has been called a myth by some, their influence criticized by others.
During their time together, White wrote A Boy’s Own Story, published in 1982 and still in print. Picano, the most prolific of the group, wrote Slashed to Ribbons in Defense of Love, eventually published in 1983. While they met as a group, he published Late in the Season. Still in print, Picano’s best-selling novel, The Lure(1979), was the first gay-themed book presented by the National Book Club. While together as a group, Ferro wrote The Family of Max Desir. David Leavitt has argued that the ironies of Holleran’s famous Dancer from the Dance, published two years before the group ever met and still in print, were lost, even corrupting, on younger readers not able to decode his critical depictions.”