Anna Madrigal (1920) is, arguably, the most famous transgendered person in American literature. She first appears in Armistead Maupin’s much-loved Tales Of The City (1978) where it is revealed that she was raised in a brothel in Winnemucca, Nevada, and that she has a secret that she shares with her lover Edgar Halcyon when he is being blackmailed, although the reader is not informed of the nature of the secret. She is also shown to be particularly concerned about one of her tenants, Mona Ramsey.
Tales Of The City began in 1974 as a newspaper serial. The fictional series is inspired by Maupin’s real-life experiences.
In the second volume More Tales Of The City (1980) she admits to being Mona’s father. Born Andrew Ramsey, she had grown up feeling like a girl. Andy ran from home at 16-years-old, worked at various manual jobs and finally joined the army. After the war he met a woman who proposed to him and moved with her to Minneapolis where he got a job in a bookstore. Two years after the birth of their child, Mona, Andy left and never came back.
In 1964, he went to Denmark and came back as Anna Madrigal, taking her name from an anagram of ”a man and a girl”. She ran a bookshop in San Francisco and then opened her boarding house, ”a crumbling, ivy-entwined relic” at 28 Barbary Lane on Russian Hill. When she saw that Mona, enjoying a transitory moment of fame as an advertising executive, was in San Francisco, Madrigal approaches her and persuades her to become a tenant. Her courage, warmth and humor, plus taping of joints onto new tenants’ doors have inspired and delighted ever since.
Maupin’s nine-book opus, came to a conclusion in 2014 with the publication of The Days Of Anna Madrigal, a magnificent and moving experience for fans. Maupin’s characters reflect the changes in the American cultural understanding of LGBTQ people and gender identity with tremendous empathy, and a significant contribution to the movement for Transgender Rights.
In 1993, the first book was made into a television miniseries, produced by Channel 4 in the UK and aired on PBS in the USA in 1994. The second and third titles in the series made their television debuts in 1998 and 2001 on Showtime. The series featured the great Olympia Dukakis as Anna Madrigal.
Last summer, Variety reported that it was developing a new installment, with Dukakis, and with Maupin will be an executive producer. The project is to be a 10-part series.
Maupin insists that The Days Of Anna Madrigal is the last on the Tales Of The City series, but he has been known to change his mind.
Anna Madrigal is featured in:
Tales Of The City (1978)
More Tales Of The City (1980)
Further Tales Of The City (1982)
Significant Others (1987)
Sure Of You (1989)
Michael Tolliver Lives (2007)
Mary Ann In Autumn (2010)
The Days Of Anna Madrigal (2014)