Created By: Center for LGBT Education, Outreach & Services, Ithaca College
Firebrand Books was founded in 1984 by Nancy Bereano as an independent book publisher of feminist and lesbian fiction and nonfiction.
As editor and publisher, Bereano centered work by authors whose work had been marginalized.
While in her late thirties, Bereano knew she wanted to create a lesbian press. Bereano said, "I couldn't bear not doing the work. Lesbians haven't published anything yet! Lesbians were not considered legitimate people who could produce literature. Many women were dying to read this type of stuff as it was culturally flourishing for the lesbian community. She viewed the lesbian presses around the globe as a cultural liberation for lesbians. The work was very politically and culturally exciting."
In 1988, Bereano published Dorothy Allison’s multi-award winning book Trash, a collection of short stories that focused on themes of working class people, sexuality, violence, and hope. Between 1984 and 1999, Firebrand published and distributed 105 titles including the entire "Dykes to Watch Out For" series by Alison Bechdel, poetry by Audre Lorde, Minnie Bruce Pratt, and Cheryl Clarke. They also published short stories, novels, and nonfiction from authors including Ruthann Robson, Lesléa Newman, Mab Segrest, Leslie Feinberg and Judith Katz.
Bereano says "It was the greatest 15 years of my life! Every piece pushed my abilities and talents and it demanded a great deal for me. It really tested me, taught me an enormous amount the growth of the lesbian movement. It was a very intellectually fertile environment." Bereano was recognized by the Lambda Literary Awards with their Publisher’s Service Award in 1996.
This point of interest is part of the tour: Ithaca LGBTQ History Walking Tour