Rita Mae Brown

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Rita Mae Brown (born November 28, 1944) is an American writer. She is best known for her first novel Rubyfruit Jungle. It was published in 1973 and was a story about a young lesbian woman. At the time, it was quite unusual for novels to be about lesbian themes. Brown is also a mystery writer and an Emmy-nominated screenwriter.

Early life[change | edit source]

Brown was born in Hanover, Pennsylvania, and grew up in Florida. In 2004 she was living outside Charlottesville, Virginia.

In the 1960s, Brown went to the University of Florida but transferred.[1] She moved to New York and went to New York University, where she got a degree in classics and English. Later she got another degree in cinematography from the New York School of Visual Arts. She also got a doctorate in political science from the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C.[2]

Activism[change | edit source]

In the 1960s, Brown started to get involved in politics. She became active in the American Civil Rights Movement, the anti-war movement, the Gay Liberation movement and the feminist movement. She helped start the Student Homophile League and participated in the Stonewall riots[3] in New York City. She joined the new National Organization for Women, but left in February 1970 when Betty Friedan said anti-gay things and the organization tried to distance itself from lesbian organizations.

In the 1970s, she became helped start The Furies Collective, a lesbian feminist newspaper collective which said that heterosexuality was the cause of all oppression.[4]

She has said, "I don't believe in straight or gay. I really don't. I think we're all degrees of bisexual."[5]

Personal life[change | edit source]

Brown is openly lesbian[6] and has had relationships with tennis player Martina Navratilova, actress-writer Fannie Flagg, socialite Judy Nelson, and politician Elaine Noble.[7] Brown enjoys American fox hunting and is master of her Fox Hunt Club. She has also played polo, and started the women-only Blue Ridge Polo Club.[8]

References[change | edit source]

  1. Related by Brown in Starting from Scratch, Rita Will, and her website bio, retrieved May 24, 2007. She allows that the University administration denies that it had anything to do with integration.
  2. Related by Brown in her autobiography Rita Will and Starting from Scratch.
  3. (pg 243 of the 1997 edition of "Rita Will": "There stood Martha Shelley and I in a sea of rioting gay men...'Martha, we'd better get the hell out of here.'")
  4. Related by Brown in her autobiography Rita Will.
  5. Sachs, Andrea (2008-03-18), "Rita Mae Brown: Loves Cats, Hates Marriage", Time, http://www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,1723482,00.html, retrieved 2009-08-30
  6. [1]
  7. Aldrich, Robert; Garry Wotherspoon (2002). Who's Who in Contemporary Gay and Lesbian History. Routledge. pp. 60. ISBN 0203994086. http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=9KA7_1s6w-QC.
  8. Rita Mae Brown Website Bio, retrieved May 24, 2007.

Other websites[change | edit source]