Author: Tereska Torrès
Tereska Torrès (3 September 1920 – 20 September 2012) was a French writer. Torrès was born Tereska Szwarc to the Jewish Polish sculptor Marek Szwarc and his wife Guina in Paris. She had to flee her native country in 1940 via Lisbon to England when France surrendered to Nazi Germany after the Battle of France, while her father, serving in the Polish Armed Forces in the West, was evacuated from La Rochelle by the British Home Fleet. Her family was able to escape because they received visas signed by Vice-Consul Manuel Vieira Braga (following instructions from Aristides de Sousa Mendes) in Bayonne, France in June 1940.
In 1948 Torrès married Meyer Levin in Paris. He urged her to publish the diary she wrote while serving in the Free French Forces. In 1950 Torrès published in the United States a fictional account of her wartime experiences under the title Women's Barracks, which "quickly became the first paperback original bestseller" selling over 2 million copies in its first five years, as it was the first pulp to candidly address lesbian relationships. In total 4 million copies of the book were sold in the United States and it was translated into 13 different languages. In 1952 Women's Barracks was selected as an example of how paperback books were promoting moral degeneracy, by the House Select Committee on Current Pornographic Materials. When the book was republished by The Feminist Press in New York in 2003, it was acclaimed as having inspired a whole new genre of lesbian and feminist writing in the US.
Torrès did not allow Women's Barracks to be published in France. Instead her wartime diary was published as Une Française Libre.