Barbara Grier, writer, publisher and the co-founder of Naiad Press, once the world's largest publishing house for gay and lesbian literature, died of cancer yesterday in Tallahassee, Fla. She was 78.

Grier's partner Donna McBride, who confirmed the death to Associated Press, said: It was her belief that through literature she could make lesbians feel good about themselves and find a happy life.

Naiad Press, Grier's best-known accomplishment, had played a significant role in bringing gay and lesbian literature to the center-stage in the publishing industry.

'Lesbian Nuns: Breaking Silence,' published by Naiad Press in 1985, chronicling the experiences of fifty-one former or current nuns, invited severe criticism from the Catholic church.  The non-fiction work described nuns' relationships in their religious communities that sometimes turned into love affairs.

Grier, a recipient of President's Award for Lifetime Service from the Gay Academic Union, ran her publishing business with her same-sex life partner McBride, and had published authors including Valerie Taylor, Katherine V. Forrest, Jane Rule and Ann Bannon. Grier used the term Lesbiana to refer to the vast lesbian literature collection that she owned.

Naiad had been publishing 36 books a year before it was sold to Bella Books, another publisher of literature about lesbians in Tallahassee, enabling Grier and McBride to retire in 2003.

Grier was born in Cincinnati and grew up in several Midwestern U.S. cities. She claimed to have come out as a lesbian at an early age of 12 and spent a lot of time collecting information about lesbians and homosexuality.

Grier was a savior to isolated lesbians all over the world, many of whom feel intense gratitude, author Karin Kallmaker told The Associated Press. I have no doubt that books save lives and Barbara put books into the lesbian universe at a rate no one in that era matched.