In 1980, Allen Ginsburg wrote a letter to the Gay Sunshine Journal, praising ‘its presentation of literary history hitherto kept in the closet by the academies.’ Established in August 1970 in Berkeley, California, Gay Sunshine began life as a tabloid reporting on the gay liberation movement that gained momentum in America after the Stonewall uprisings of 1969. When the collective which ran the publication disbanded in 1971, it was taken over by Winston Leyland, a writer, editor and former Catholic priest who had joined Gay Sunshine early on in its inception. Under Leyland’s editorship, the publication began to include more gay literary content and, in 1973, moved to San Francisco and rebranded as the Gay Sunshine Journal, providing a platform for the work of gay artists and writers. Figures such as William Burroughs, Jean Genet, Allen Ginsberg, Christopher Isherwood, Gore Vidal and Tennessee Williams were frequently featured, both as contributors and as the subjects of interviews and reviews.
In 1975, Leyland’s operation branched out into book publishing, founding the Gay Sunshine Press as a not-for-profit enterprise, publishing publishing anthologies of homoerotic poetry and translations of gay literature from other cultures. The prolific output of Leyland’s publishing ventures has rendered him one of the most influential and active figures in gay publishing and, in 1980, he won the Stonewall Book Award for his work as editor of Now the Volcano: An Anthology of Latin American Gay Literature. Hitherto unknown writers, both from the contemporary American context of the liberation movement and writers from diverse cultures, languages and historical periods (collected in anthologies edited by Leyland), were given voice through Gay Sunshine, exposing challenging, sensual and deeply beautiful gay writing, often for the first time.
This selection of rarities, the highlights from a collection of 35 items from Leyland’s private library, appears complete with several unpublished letters and Leyland’s own copies of books published by the Gay Sunshine Press, in the hardback and deluxe issues, most of which went to libraries and are consequently very scarce. Additional works by Gore Vidal, Tennessee Williams and Allen Ginsberg, signed and in some cases bearing personal inscriptions to Leyland, are represented alongside several anthologies of interviews, poems and letters which demonstrate the pioneering project of the Gay Sunshine Press.
WILLIAMS, Tennessee. Memoirs. 1975. £475.
Signed limited edition, number 97 of 400 copies signed by the author. The trade edition was published the same year.
NORSE, Harold. The Undersea Mountain. 1953. £500.
First edition, first printing, presentation copy inscribed by the poet, “May 1, 1953 For Howard, With love, Harold”. This copy has an appropriate later association for the gay poet’s first collection, with the ownership inscription, “Winston Leyland, His Copy”. In 1977 the press published Norse’s collection Carnivorous Saint: Gay Poems 1941-1976.
RODITI, Edouard. Emperor of Midnight. 1974. £475.
First edition, first printing, wrappers issue, inscribed by the author to Winston Leyland, “For Winston Leyland, in a good cause as ever, Edouard Roditi”, on the first blank, and with Leyland’s ownership inscription inside front wrapper. This copy also has seven unpublished autograph letters signed from Roditi to Leyland, dated 1976-77, and an unpublished typewritten hand-corrected poem signed, titled “In Praise of Democracy”.
GINSBERG, Allen. Howl for Carl Solomon. 1971. £1,350.
First deluxe edition, one of 275 copies signed by Ginsberg, printed by Robert & Grabhorn and Andrew Hoyem on handmade paper from Goudy Modern type, with illustrated cloth binding after a drawing by Robert La Vigne. Ginsberg’s maserpiece was first published by City Lights in 1956, in a much-reproduced wrappers format, but this is the first fine press edition. It includes a new note by Ginsberg about the presentation here of Howl for the first time in tandem with the poetic continuation The Names (written 1957, published in the Paris Review 1966), his “autobiographical chronicle of Howl’s same radiant persons living & dead adored to specify Names & deeds in extended eulogy – an embodyment of Howl’s abstractions”. The publisher’s advertisement is laid in. This copy has the ownership inscription of Winston Leyland (b.1940).
(GAY SUNSHINE PRESS.) Angels of the Lyre…. A Gay Poetry Anthology. Edited by Winston Leyland. June 1975. £650.
First edition, first printing, very scarce cloth issue, publisher’s own copy, number two of 10 copies signed by Leyland, of the first Gay Sunshine Press publication, and one of the earliest openly gay poetry anthologies. This small signed issue was one of 200 hardcover copies, most of which were sold to libraries. This copy comes from Winston Leyland’s personal collection and is additionally signed by him on the title page. Angels of the Lyre was the first book publication of Gay Sunshine Press, printing poems by gay poets such as Joe Brainard, Charles Henri Ford, Allen Ginsberg, Gerard Malanga, Harold Norse, Frank O’Hara, and many more.
(GAY SUNSHINE PRESS.) My Dear Boy….Gay Love Letters through the Centuries. 1998. £450.
First edition, first printing, very scarce cloth issue, publisher Winston Leyland’s own copy with his ownership inscription to half-title.
(GAY POETRY.) The Male Muse. A Gay Anthology…. 1973. £300.
First edition, first printing, very scarce cloth issue, of one of the first openly gay poetry anthologies. Laid in is a typed letter signed from Young to Leyland dated 15 May 1974 discussing various gay publishing events and Young’s attendance of the Anarchist ‘Live and Let Live Festival’ at Hunter College, New York, “Lots of gay anarchists there”, and mentioning E. A. Lacey’s The Forms of Loss (1965), “the first openly gay book to be published in Canada”, recommending Leyland review Lacey in his Gay Sunshine Journal. Also laid in are two typed letters, one signed, to Leyland from Oswell Blakeston, pseudonym of Henry J. Hasslacher, a British poet who is included in Young’s anthology.
(GAY SUNSHINE PRESS.) Gay Sunshine Interviews. Volume I [and] Volume II…. 1978, 1982. £1,500.
First edition, first printing, publisher’s own copies of the rare deluxe signed limited issues of the Gay Sunshine Interviews. The first volume is number three of five hors commerce copies signed by Leyland and five of the interviewees, namely Allen Ginsberg, Peter Orlovsky, John Giorno, Harold Norse, and Lou Harrison (with his entry inscribed “Pleasure, cheers, & love to Winston, from Lou”). This copy is additionally confirmed “Winston Leyland, his copy” on the front endpaper and signed by him on the title page. There were 500 cloth copies of the first volume issued, of which 26 were lettered and signed by Leyland only. The second volume is letter Z of 26 specially bound copies signed by Leyland, and this copy additionally signed by him on the title page. The limitation of the other clothbound copies for the second volume is not stated in the book or the bibliography. The wrappers issue for both volumes is common, but the vast majority of the cloth issues of the Gay Sunshine Press were sold to libraries, and are consequently rare.
(GAY SUNSHINE PRESS.) Gay Roots….Twenty Years of Gay Sunshine. An Anthology of Gay History, Sex, Politics, and Culture. 1991-3. £1,000.
First edition, first printing, Winston Leyland’s own copy of the deluxe signed limited issue, letters B and Z of 26 specially bound copies signed by Leyland, these volumes additionally signed by Leyland on the title pages and deriving from his personal collection. There were also 300 unsigned cloth copies, the vast majority of which were sold to libraries. Gay Roots was advertised as “an anthology encyclopaedic in scale, Gay Roots collects the best writings from the turbulent early 1970’s, the very beginning of modern gay liberation, right up to the present day. Work from Gay Sunshine Journal the groundbreaking tabloid that served as a forum and catalyst for the revolution underway appears together with some of the most catalytic gay writing published by Gay Sunshine Press, the oldest continuing gay book publisher in the United States. Tennessee Williams wrote in 1977 of Gay Sunshine: ‘The only completely literate and serious Gay Journal with which I’m acquainted.’ Five books in one, with sections on ‘Gay History,’ ‘Gay Sex and Politics,’ ‘Gay Biography and Literary Essays,’ ‘Gay Fiction,’ and ‘Gay Poetry,’ Gay Roots is intended for every gay person desiring to reclaim a rich cultural tradition.” (Gay Sunshine Bibliography).
(GAY SUNSHINE PRESS.) WILDE, Oscar, attrib. Teleny….Edited by Winston Leyland. 1984. £950.
First unexpurgated edition, first printing, letter A of 26 deluxe copies specially bound and signed by Leyland. This is Leyland’s own copy with his additional ownership inscription, “Winston Leyland, His copy” to the front endpaper. There were also 200 unsigned copies in plainer cloth, the vast majority were sold to libraries. “This brilliant erotic novel, attributed to Oscar Wilde and his circle, was first published in an underground edition of 200 copies in 1893. It deals with the love between two men in Victorian Englandone of them the handsome, 24-year-old pianist Rene Teleny; the other a young man-about-town, Camille Des Grieux. The book was originally published anonymously because no one in England (least of all Oscar Wilde) could afford to acknowledge open authorship of a book in which homosexual acts are described minutely and celebrated with abandon. And Teleny certainly leaves nothing to the imagination. It is a veritable catalogue of gay lovemaking, and may indeed be rightly considered the first gay novel in the English language. This is the first unexpurgated edition of the novel, based on the original manuscript” (Gay Sunshine bibliography).
(GAY SUNSHINE PRESS.) GINSBERG, Allen, & Peter Orlovsky. Straight Hearts’ Delight…. Love Poems and Selected Letters 1947-1980. £1,500.
First edition, first printing, letter O of 26 specially bound copies signed by Ginsberg and Orlovsky. This is publisher and editor Winston Leyland’s own copy of the deluxe issue, additionally signed by him on the title page, and with two unpublished autograph letters signed from Ginsberg to Leyland laid in. The first letter, dated 26 November 1982, praises the present publication, mentions meeting John Rechy, and discusses other matters of gay publishing. The second, with the signed envelope dated 7 September 1990, sends Leyland a postcard of the famous photograph Ginsberg took of Neal Cassady and Natalie Jackson in 1955.