Newsletter

Stay up to date with the latest from MAKERS delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for new stories from trailblazing women, a big dose of inspiration, and exclusive MAKERS content.

Newsletter Confirmation

Thank you for joining! Please check your inbox for our special welcome letter
with exclusive updates from MAKERS.

MAKERS Moment

Intellectual Radicals

Intellectual Radicals

More From Rita Mae

In this video

After being thrown out of NOW, Brown joined the New York Radical Feminists, whose intellectual discussions she found riveting, if unrealistic.

Rita Mae's Biography

Favorite Saying: “Worse things have happened to nicer people.”
Advice to Young People: “Learn Latin. It is the basis of our culture [and] the undergirding of all that we do and are.”
Childhood Dream: To be a hunter.
Proudest  Accomplishment: Being able to lead her pack of fox hounds on the hunt.

Rita Mae Brown is an activist and author best known for her first novel Rubyfruit Jungle. She has written thirteen literary novels, more than two-dozen mysteries and several books of poetry and non-fiction.
 
Brown was born in 1944 on a farm in Hanover, Pennsylvania. She briefly attended the University of Florida before being expelled (allegedly for her participation in the civil rights movement but more likely for being openly gay). In 1964, she hitchhiked to New York City and initially lived out of her car. She earned a scholarship to New York University, where she studied classics and became deeply involved in the civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights and anti-war movements.
 
Shortly after taking an administrative position at the National Organization for Women, Brown was forced to resign by founder Betty Freidan, who called Brown and other lesbians the “Lavender Menace,” fearing their participation would be used against the women’s movement by outsiders. Brown then became involved with the radical women’s liberation groups forming, which called for the inclusion of lesbians. In 1971, she co-founded The Furies, a lesbian-feminist women’s house and collective in Washington D.C. that published a monthly newspaper.
 
In 1973, Brown published Rubyfruit Jungle, a coming-of-age tale that shocked many at the time with its frank and explicit depictions of lesbianism. Despite having been published on a small label without a marketing budget, the book became a smash success and is now considered a classic. Brown has been writing novels, screenplays and essays ever since. Some of her notable publications include the 1983 novel Sudden Death, a fictionalized account of her relationship with the tennis star Martina Navratilova, and the Mrs. Murphy series of mysteries, which she “co-authors” with her cat, Sneaky Pie.

Related Videos

Sheryl Sandberg
Sheryl Sandberg
Facebook COO

By now, Sheryl Sandberg has spent more than two decades achieving at the highest reaches of governmental and corporate America. And she’s determined to bring more talented y...

Rebecca Morris
Rebecca Morris
Abstract Painter

Rebecca Morris is known for revitalizing abstract painting through her acclaimed artwork. Among her many accomplishments, Morris is the recipient of the 2008 Guggenheim Fellowship,...

Brandon Holley
Brandon Holley
Fashion Editor-in-Chief

Brandon Holley is the former Editor-in-Chief for Lucky, the award-winning magazine about shopping and style. She began her magazine career as a writer for Paper, which eventually l...

Ophelia Dahl
Ophelia Dahl
World Health Care Advocate

Ophelia Dahl is an American health care advocate who has fought for the rights of the poor and sick for over twenty years. The daughter of two accomplished parents, author Roald Da...