Memoirs of a Barbary Coast Prostitute
Alice Smith

Edited by Ivy Anderson, Devon Angus
Foreword by Josh Sides

Following in the tradition of Herbert Asbury's The Barbary Coast, Luc Sante's Lowlife, and Jack Black's You Can't Win, Alice: Memoirs of a Barbary Coast Prostitute reveals the long lost memoir of Alice Smith, a sex worker from San Francisco in 1913. Discovered and edited by our very own bookseller, Ivy Anderson, and her partner in history, Devon Angus, this memoir uncovers complex intersections between gender, labor, and vice in San Francisco and the greater United States.

In 1913 the San Francisco Bulletin published a serialized, ghostwritten memoir of a prostitute who went by the moniker Alice Smith. "A Voice from the Underworld" detailed Alice's humble Midwestern upbringing and her struggle to find aboveboard work, and candidly related the harrowing events she endured after entering "the life." While prostitute narratives had been published before, never had they been as frank in their discussion of the underworld, including topics such as abortion, police corruption, and the unwritten laws of the brothel. Throughout the series, Alice strongly criticized the society that failed her and so many other women, but, just as acutely, she longed to be welcomed back from the margins. The response to Alice's story was unprecedented: four thousand letters poured into the Bulletin, many of which were written by other prostitutes ready to share their own stories; and it inspired what may have been the first sex worker rights protest in modern history.

For the first time in print since 1913, Alice: Memoirs of a Barbary Coast Prostitute presents the memoirs of Alice Smith and a selection of letters responding to her story. An introduction contextualizes "A Voice from the Underworld" amid Progressive Era sensationalistic journalism and shifting ideas of gender roles, and reveals themes in Alice's story that extend to issues facing sex workers today.

Published in collaboration with the California Historical Society

Title Alice
Subtitle Memoirs of a Barbary Coast Prostitute
Author Alice Smith
Edited by Ivy Anderson, Devon Angus
Foreword by Josh Sides
Publisher Heyday Books
Title First Published 03 October 2016
Format Paperback
Nb of pages 336 p.
ISBN-10 1597143618
ISBN-13 9781597143615
Publication Date 03 October 2016
Main content page count 336
Weight 16 oz.

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