Rita Mae Brown

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Rita Mae Brown
Born(1944-11-28) November 28, 1944 (age 67)
Hanover, Pennsylvania, USA
Occupationnovelist, poet, screenwriter, activist

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Rita Mae Brown
Born(1944-11-28) November 28, 1944 (age 67)
Hanover, Pennsylvania, USA
Occupationnovelist, poet, screenwriter, activist


Rita Mae Brown (born November 28, 1944) is an American writer. She is best known for her first novel Rubyfruit Jungle. Published in 1973, it dealt with lesbian themes in an explicit manner unusual for the time. Brown is also a mystery writer and screenwriter.


Early life

Brown was born in Hanover, Pennsylvania, and grew up in Florida, and as of 2004 lived outside Charlottesville, Virginia.

In the 1960s, Brown attended Broward Community College and the University of Florida but transferred.[1] She moved to New York and attended New York University, where she received a degree in classics and English. Later she received another degree in cinematography from the New York School of Visual Arts. Brown received a Ph.D. in literature from Union Institute & University in 1976, and holds a doctorate in political science from the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C.[2]

Political activism

In the late 1960s, Brown turned her attention to politics. She became active in the American Civil Rights Movement, the anti-war movement, the Gay Liberation movement and the feminist movement. She took an administrative position with the fledgling National Organization for Women, but angrily resigned with Michela Griffo in January 1970 over Betty Friedan's anti-gay remarks and NOW's attempts to distance itself from lesbian organizations.[3] She played a leading role in the "Lavender Menace" zap of the Second Congress to Unite Women on May 1, 1970, which protested about Friedan's remarks and the exclusion of lesbians from the women's movement.[4]

In the early 1970s, she became a founding member of The Furies Collective, a lesbian feminist newspaper collective which held that heterosexuality was the root 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

Brown has been in relationships with tennis player Martina Navratilova, actress/writer Fannie Flagg, socialite Judy Nelson, and politician Elaine Noble.[6]

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.[7]

Writing career


Brown began her writing career with poetry:


She is known as the bestselling author of a number of novels, including:

Since 1990 Brown has "coauthored" with her cat, Sneaky Pie Brown, a cozy mystery series featuring the feline character Mrs. Murphy. These include:

  1. Wish You Were Here (1990) ISBN 978-0-553-28753-0
  2. Rest in Pieces (1992) ISBN 978-0-553-56239-2
  3. Murder at Monticello (1994) ISBN 978-0-553-57235-3
  4. Pay Dirt (1995) ISBN 978-0-553-57236-0
  5. Murder, She Meowed (1996) ISBN 978-0-553-57237-7
  6. Murder on the Prowl (1998) ISBN 978-0-553-57540-8
  7. Cat on the Scent (1999) ISBN 978-0-553-57541-5
  8. Pawing Through the Past (2000) ISBN 978-0-553-58025-9
  9. Claws and Effect (2001) ISBN 978-0-553-58090-7
  10. Catch as Cat Can (2002) ISBN 978-0-553-58028-0
  11. The Tail of the Tip-Off (2003) ISBN 978-0-553-58285-7
  12. Whisker of Evil (2004) ISBN 978-0-553-58286-4
  13. Cat's Eyewitness (2005) ISBN 978-0-553-58287-1
  14. Sour Puss (2006) ISBN 978-0-553-58681-7
  15. Puss n' Cahoots (2007) ISBN 978-0-553-58682-4
  16. The Purrfect Murder (2008) ISBN 978-0-553-58683-1
  17. Santa Clawed (2008) ISBN 978-0-553-80706-6
  18. Cat of the Century (2010) ISBN 978-0-553-80707-3
  19. Hiss of Death (2011) ISBN 978-0-553-80708-0
  20. The Big Cat Nap (4/3/2012) ISBN 978-0-345-53044-8

Brown has written about her passions for horses, hounds, and American fox hunting in her fiction and non-fiction for years (Bingo, Riding Shotgun, later Mrs. Murphy books). Brown is also active in a local fox hunt club.[7] In 2000 she began another mystery series, centered around a fox hunting club in Virginia led by "Sister" Jane Arnold. Books include:


Brown has published the nonfiction Starting from Scratch: A Different Kind of Writer's Manual and the autobiographies Rita Will: Memoir of a Literary Rabble-Rouser and "Animal Magnetism - My Life with Creatures Great and Small." ISBN 978-0-345-51179-9 (0-345-51179-4)(2009) She has also published the tie-in Sneaky Pie's Cookbook (1999).


Her screenplay Slumber Party Massacre (1982) was a parody of the slasher genre, but the producers of the film decided to play it seriously. Other screenplays and teleplays include:

In 1982, Brown was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Program for I Love Liberty.

In popular culture


  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. ^ Brownmiller, Susan (1999). In our time : memoir of a revolution. Dial Press. ISBN 0-385-31486-8. 
  4. ^ a b Related by Brown in her autobiography Rita Will.
  5. ^ "Rita Mae Brown: Loves Cats, Hates Marriage", Andrea Sachs, Time Magazine, March 18 2008
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ a b Rita Mae Brown Website Bio, retrieved May 24, 2007

External links