Documentary – One For The Books: The Maupin Marathon

One For The Books: The Maupin Marathon

Thirty-three years ago a valiant troupe of British LGBT folk did a marathon public reading of the first 4 Tales novels at a queer pub in London called the Fallen Angel. The role of Connie Bradshaw was played by a feisty young woman who went on to become one of Britain’s most formidable activists. 

Armistead Maupin, 2018

Written, filmed, edited, narrated, directed and produced by Rose Collis

In 1984, HM Customs raided the legendary Gay’s the Word bookshop & seized 2,000+ books. They included ‘Tales of the City’, Armistead Maupin’s trailblazing novels. The shop’s directors and managers were charged with importing ‘indecent or obscene material’ and faced up to two years in prison. £50,000 was needed to cover the legal costs to fight this absurd charges, which were rightly viewed as an attack on the whole gay community.

In April 1985, Peter Scott-Presland’s Consenting Adults In Public theatre group staged the ‘Maupin Marathon’ fundraiser: a 28-hour non-stop rehearsed reading of the first four ‘TOTC’ books, featuring many notable  performers and activists, including Gay’s The Word co-manager, Linda Semple, Fi Craig and…Rose Collis.

After being turned down for funding by the BFI and Arts Council England (twice), fifty generous people contributed to a crowd-funder which raised almost £6,000 so this film could be made.

To mark the 39th anniversary of this legendary event, and the 40th anniversary since the bookshop raid, the film was released on YouTube channel at noon on April 27 2024 — the exact time that the marathon began with a whistle blown by Chris Smith MP.

Completed in late May, the film has already been an ‘Official Selection’ in 13 global independent film festivals, a Semi-Finalist in three others and won nine awards, including the BRIFF ‘Best Documentary 2023’, ‘Best UK Documentary’ in the London International Filmmakers’ Festival Winter 2023 and ‘Best LGBT Film’, Hastings Rocks International Festival 2024




Brighton Rocks International Film Festival hosted the first ever public screening of One For The Books: The Maupin Marathon on October 4 2023, followed by an exclusive director Q&A.

The film received its London premiere as part of a special event at the Cinema Museum on Thursday 19 October, featuring a Q&A with Rose Collis and Peter Scott-Presland, who presented her with two awards on behalf of the Sweden-based International Lesbian and Gay Cultural Network (ILGCN)Clio’s Silver Cup 2023, ‘for outstanding achievements in documenting and spreading information about lesbian and gay history’, and The 2023 Wings Award‘for outstanding contributions to committed LGBT film-making’.

Photo: Bryanne McIntosh-Melville


‘Fabulous time last night watching the London premiere of One for the Books. It’s a new film by Rose Collis about the reading of all the Tales of the City books over one weekend, as part of the Defend Gay’s the Word campaign.’

‘Engaging – and, in parts, enraging – it’s a wonderful mix of Rose’s extensive print archive and interviews with people who took part. Really worth a look if/when other screenings are planned/it’s uploaded to YouTube.’

‘It was a fantastic evening and a fascinating film. Inspiring is so much more engaging than expiring – so do please continue with your storytelling.’

‘We adored the documentary, it was brilliant 👏, sharp, to the point and no constantly repeating information. The Q&A was very good, very interactive, and the audience really got into it.’

‘I was intrigued and amused by the amazing breadth of subject, and the wonderful amount of detail that you crammed into a seemingly short hour! It is a beautifully nuanced and personal gift to us all: your highlighting of remembrances, your clarity of intention, and your deep knowledge and celebration of ‘being there’. Well done, indeed.’

‘I went to see ‘One for the Books: the Maupin Marathon’ by Rose Collis last night.  A really important story of gay fight back, with flair.’

‘It’s great to hear from those who were there instead of retro versions of our history.’

‘It’s a wonderful film, memorialising so much more than just that event, The Fallen Angel, Capital Gay, Consenting Adults, etc. A whole epoch of lesbian and gay institutions embedded in the community they served.’

‘I loved the film! It was by turns very funny and very moving, and told a really important story. I am old enough to remember it but I had pretty much forgotten about it. So it will be a revelation to today’s LGTB activists who have never heard of the case and know nothing about how the community came together in all those creative endeavours and raised all that money.’

Thank you for making this really wonderful and engrossing film Rose. I wasn’t in London at the time, but it made me wish I had been and had been able to take part in the campaign.

Just watched ‘One For The Books’ and I have to say I think it’s fantastic. So beautifully put together, very articulate, funny interviewees and really evokes the spirit of the times.

Thank you all so much for making this – it’s so important that we keep our stories intact and available for queer folks today (even when it’s about a dreadful situation!) and the film does just that.

Lovely to watch in this the 40th anniversary since the infamous raid on Gay’s The Word by HM Customs & Excise. Congratulations. Lots of wonderful images which I’ve never seen before.

I have watched it today from my sick sofa and completely forgot how I was feeling in the wonder of this brilliant film. This was just before my time (came out in 87) but so many places and so many people remembered, as was repeatedly said some no longer with us. It was a terrible time for losing some truly wonderful people, the funerals and personal ceremonies when we were not allowed to attend. Yet it was an era of community activism, the fights that brought us together as one. Please watch this, such a very important part of our his/her/theirstory.

Wonderful work!  Important history that needs to be remembered. Really enjoyed it.

I’ve just watched your film on the Maupin Marathon and enjoyed it very much. That was absolutely fascinating. Wonderful archival images and lots of great stories. Thank you Rose.