Writer, gay activist, playwright and Vietnam vet, Armistead Maupin (a pseudonym: acronym of "A man I dreamt up") was born in Washington DC in 1944, and reared in Raleigh, North Carolina. After graduating from the University of North Carolina in 1966, he failed the first-year exams in law school before applying to the Naval Officer Candidate School. Commissioned as an ensign in the Navy, Maupin served stints in the Mediterranean and Vietnam, then later returned to Southeast Asia as a civilian volunteer, helping to build housing for disabled Vietnamese veterans.

After working as a reporter for a South Carolina newspaper, he was assigned in 1971 to work in the San Francisco bureau of the Associated Press, and came to live in San Francisco. Maupin came out publicly as a gay man in 1974, agreeing to be identified as a homosexual in a "Ten Most Eligible Bachelors" article in San Francisco Magazine. He came to the city from a conservative Southern family and revelled in the freedom the sexual and social revolution afoot in San Francisco afforded. Maupin's parents subscribed to the newspaper to follow their son's stories. "My mother wrote to say it was killing my father, and my father wrote to say it was killing my mother," he said. Both of Maupin's parents eventually accepted their son's homosexuality.

The Tales of the City series, his most famous books, were originally serialised in the San Francisco Chronicle in 1982 and published as a series of novels from 1984 onwards. They're an incredibly funny and lovable set of bizarre tales about a group of friends and housemates in San Francisco, with a lead gay male character, Michael 'Mouse' Tolliver, very like Maupin himself. See Tales of the City Metanode for more details. The first two books were mini-serialised for TV, to mixed acclaim. He also wrote a popular revue show, Beach Blanket Babylon, and Maybe The Moon (1994) a tale about a female dwarf. His most recent novel is The Night Listener(2000).

Maupin also recently completed a collaboration with Jake Haggie, composer-in-residence with the San Francisco Opera, on a concert piece featuring Anna Madrigal. He still lives and works in San Francisco.

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