Brown, Rita Mae

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American writer and feminist

Brown was born to an unmarried woman who left her in an orphanage. She was soon placed with birth relatives who adopted her. She was raised in poverty on a farm in the rural South and now farms in Pennsylvania.

She has always known she was a lesbian, but the publication of her novel Rubyfruit Jungle in 1973 made her the most famous "out" gay person in America. She has published at least 16 novels in all, including a series of murder mysteries where the detective is a cat named Mrs. Murphy. She is also a Hollywood screenwriter and an active campaigner for gay and animal rights and against nuclear armaments. In 1970 she was expelled from the National Organization for Women (NOW) for her outspoken insistence on the recognition of lesbian issues, and in 1971 co-founded the lesbian-feminist separatist collective The Furies.


Brown, Rita Mae. Rita Will: Memoir of a Literary Rabble-Rouser. (New York: Bantam Books, 1997)
Who's Who in America, 1996
DiStafano, Blase. "The Farmer Brown." [Includes portrait]. Available at:


20th Century
21st Century
Civil Rights, Advocacy
Theater, Broadcasting, Cinema
Sexuality: Gay Men, Lesbians, Bisexuals, Transsexuals
Formal, American/European-Type Adoption
Birth or Infancy
Unmarried Mother, Single Parent (Mother or Father) Unable to Cope
Very Poor (Financially) Adoptive or Foster Families
Unmarried Mother
Related Topics
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