Richard Wallace Love was born on October 18, 1927 in Halfway, Oregon, near the border of Idaho. He was the third of four children in his family. Both his parents were teachers, and both came from families that had lived in Oregon since the frontier days of the 1800s.
In the 1930s, his family packed everything and moved to the Midwest. When his father began graduate school at Ohio State University, he moved the family from Oregon to Columbus, Ohio. Richard grew up in the North Columbus neighborhood of Clinton Park, attending Clinton Elementary School and University High School.
While a teenager, Richard spent a summer away in Arizona. There in the southwest, he developed a passionate interest in Native American culture. This fascination, which nourished much of his literature, would continue throughout his life. After graduating with the University High School Class of 1945, Richard enlisted in the Coast Guard. He fully expected to face military combat in the South Pacific, but while he was still in basic training, the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, ending World War II.
After the war, Richard returned to Columbus and enrolled at Ohio State University, where he graduated with a degree in sociology, but was forced to return to the military life when drafted by the U.S. Army. Afterwards, when finally free of military obligations, he left the United States for Mexico City, where he studied anthropology.
Upon his return to America, Richard settled in California. In 1956, he began work as a schoolteacher in the Salinas Valley town of Soledad, where he taught at the Main Street School. One year later, at the age of thirty, he married and started a family. The first of his three children was born in 1958.
In 1959, Richard and his family moved to the San Francisco Bay Area; they lived in Berkeley for a year before buying a home in the East Bay city of Hayward. In the early 1960s, Richard taught school in Oakland and began studies towards a Master's degree in Spanish at San Francisco Statue University. It was as a gradutate student at SF State that he secretly wrote his first novel, Song of the Loon; he had been given an office on campus, and he took advantage of the privacy his office provided by writing what would become his best-known novel.
Although he was not a native Spanish speaker, the influence of Spanish literature is evident in much of his work. Richard completed his Master's degree in 1965, the year before Song of the Loon was published under the pseudonym of Richard Amory. He continued his study of Spanish at the University of California, Berkeley, where he also taught as he pursued a Ph.D. Richard would also continue to write in secret.
1970 was an eventful year for Richard. That year, he separated from his wife and family and moved to San Jose, California, the city where he had recently begun teaching. He also joined the Society for Individual Rights (SIR), a San Francisco-based gay rights organization. In addition, he became a staff writer for Vector magazine, a publication of SIR, to which he contributed literary criticism, book reviews, and poetry.
It was also 1970 in which perhaps his most significant contribution to gay literature took place, even though it was a year in which he did not add a title to his oeuvre. That year, Richard led an effort to bring together gay writers. Many of these authors had, like himself, written their novels in isolation. The group including Dirk Vanden, Peter Tuesday Hughes, Phil Andros, and others, name themselves "the Renaissance Group." One of their intentions was to launch a gay publishing company that would treat gay writers and their work respectfully; members of the group felt that they had been exploited by Greenleaf Classics, the press that published much of their work. Although the goal of owning a publishing company did not materialize, the Renaissance Group succeeded—in discussions, essays, and a public forum—in defining and advancing the emerging genre of gay literature.
In San Jose, Richard Love, who had always been a talented teacher, taught English as a second language to students of Woodrow Wilson Junior High and Herbert Hoover Junior High. He also joined the San Jose Gay Liberation Front. In 1974, Richard published his last book, Willow Song, a novel of magical realism set in San Jose. He died in 1981.
by Cesar Love, the author's son