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Tales of the City Books In Order

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Publication Order of Tales of the City Books

Tales of the City (1978)Description / Buy at Amazon
More Tales of the City (1978)Description / Buy at Amazon
Further Tales of the City (1982)Description / Buy at Amazon
Babycakes (1984)Description / Buy at Amazon
Significant Others (1987)Description / Buy at Amazon
Sure of You (1989)Description / Buy at Amazon
Michael Tolliver Lives (2007)Description / Buy at Amazon
Mary Ann in Autumn (2010)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Days of Anna Madrigal (2014)Description / Buy at Amazon
Mona of the Manor (2024)Description / Buy at Amazon

Tales of the City is a series of novels written by Armistead Maupin which tell the story of a young woman who moves to San Francisco and encounters drama and heartache.

+The Story

The Tales of the City series began as serials in newspapers. The stories that Armistead Maupin wrote first made appearances in the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Francisco Examiner.

While they were never breakout hits, they had enough of a following that it was eventually deemed necessary to collect them into full-length novels. The first four books in the Tales of the City series came about in this manner.

It wasn’t until the fifth novel that Armistead began to produce original content designed for novelization purposes. The series centers on Mary Ann Singleton. A young secretary in her twenties, Mary is pretty innocent and naïve when she leaves Cleveland, Ohio.

The heroine initially sets out to only visit San Francisco but her experience is so impactful that she decides to stay. Mary Ann Singleton proceeds to find an apartment at 28 Barbary Lane, paving the way for a life of adventure.

Barbary Lane is a lively setting occupied by a litany of eccentric characters. They include a bisexual hippy and a personable gay fellow. Mary gets to know her neighbors very well, but her exploits are not restricted to her apartment.

She also explores San Francisco and gains a keen understanding of life and love. The Tales of the City series has been described as a soap opera and for a very good reason. Armistead Maupin’s characters are over the top.

Their personalities are somewhat exaggerated and they participate in the most ridiculous schemes, plans, and missions. Most of the books are spent following Mary around as she gets to know her neighbors. She learns about all the demons that haunt them, the consequences of their past mistakes and the joys that make their lives tolerable.

She also watches as they support her and each other during difficult times, and she learns to do the same for them. Along the way, the heroine grows. She gains priceless wisdom about the human condition and she uses it maneuver her life appropriately.

The Tales of the City series was praised for its realism when the books were first published in the 1970s. The author believes that the serialized nature of his initial stories gave him the perfect platform to perfect his skills and ground his writing.

Armistead Maupin has admitted to not being that impressive a writer when he started out. However, over the course of the serialization of the Tales of the City stories, he saw his writing abilities transform.

More importantly, he was able to use the relatively immediate feedback he got from readers to make adjustments to his storytelling. The author’s readers were quite eager to write to him and their letters helped Armistead refine his concepts.

For the most part, Armistead used the events that were happening in his society at that time to create ideas for stories. His concepts were a response to the things he saw. At the time, the author’s exploration of sexuality was unheard of.

In fact, Armistead’s use of homosexual and bisexual characters was considered somewhat revolutionary, so much so that some believe it influenced the writing on television shows like ‘Will and Grace’.

Armistead stuck to the soap opera structure of storytelling for the first few novels. In fact, he lost quite a few readers who thought some of the elements of his stories were simply too silly and exaggerated to make sense.

He was also criticized for his reliance on coincidence in connecting the various plots playing out in any given novel. However, many of his fans appreciated him for those very reasons, complimenting the author for transporting them to a world that felt so real yet so fantastical.

Over time, though, especially when his characters left the 1970s and entered the 1980s, Armistead Maupin switched gears. His plots became darker. He began to explore unpalatable subjects like AIDs, and the results were just as divisive.

The Tales of the City series has been praised for the focus it places on human relationships and interactions.


The first novel in the Tales of the City series was turned into a miniseries by a UK channel in 1993. The next two sequels were brought to the small screen by Showtime in the United States at the beginning of the 21st Century.

The series was turned into radio dramas that aired between 2013 and 2017.

+The Author

Armistead Maupin was born in 1944 in Washington, D.C. His father founded a successful law firm in North Carolina. A former army man who fought in the Vietnam War, Maupin worked at a television station where his conservative and segregationist views were encouraged by the future congressman who managed it.

Armistead renounced those views in later years. Armistead, who is gay, has admitted to using his own experiences to create some of the characters in the Tales of the City series.

+Tales of the City

The first novel in the Tales of the City series, Tales of the City introduces readers to Mary Ann Singleton. Published in 1978, the book finds Mary moving to San Francisco and setting down roots at 28 Barbary Lane.

It is there that she meets a collection of wacky characters through whose eyes she is able to explore the underground culture of San Francisco in the 1970s. They include Magridal, the landlady of Barbary Lane who plays a maternal role to her tenants; Mona the restless melancholic; Tolliver, the gay best friend to Mona, and Brian Hawkins, the womanizing lawyer to mention but a few.

+More Tales of the City

The second novel in the Tales of the City series, published in 1980, More Tales of the City picks up a few months after the events of its predecessor. The book finds Mary and her friend Tolliver using the money her boss gave her to take a cruise.

There Mary meets and falls for a handsome gentleman with amnesia. She makes it her goal to help him figure out what happened to his memories. The clues she finds suggest that the man might have suffered a traumatic event.

Book Series In Order » Characters » Tales of the City

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