The writer and publisher Barbara Grier has died, aged 78.

Grier started one of the world’s most successful gay publishing houses, Naiad Press.

She died of cancer on Thursday at a hospital in Tallahassee, Florida

An icon of lesbian and gay literature, Naiad Press became widely known in 1985 with its publication of Lesbian Nuns: Breaking Silence, a book which was banned in Boston, Massachusetts.

Her partner of more than twenty years, Donna McBride, said: “It was her belief that through literature she could make lesbians feel good about themselves and find a happy life.”

In 1985 Grier earned the President’s Award for Lifetime Service from the Gay Academic Union.

In 2002, Grier and McBride received the Pioneer Award from the Lambda Literary Foundation, in addition to the Award for Publisher’s Service which they were given in 1991.

Naiad Press was sold to Bella Books in 2003.

Grier’s ashes will reportedly be scattered in the Bahamas, where she spent much of her time.