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Template:Infobox Writer Rita Mae Brown (born November 28 1944) is a prolific 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 successful mystery writer and an Emmy-nominated screenwriter.

Early life

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

In the 1960s, Brown attended 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. She also holds a doctorate in political science from the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C.[2]

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 cofounded the Student Homophile League and participated in the Stonewall riots (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.'") in New York City. She took an administrative position with the fledgling National Organization for Women, but angrily resigned in February 1970 over Betty Friedan's anti-gay remarks and NOW's attempts to distance itself from lesbian organizations. She played a leading role in the "Lavender Menace" zap of the Second Congress to Unite Women on May 1, 1970, which protested Friedan's remarks and the exclusion of lesbians from the women's movement.[3]

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.[3]

She has said, "I don't believe in straight or gay. I really don't. I think we're all degrees of bisexual." [4]

Personal life

She is the former girlfriend of tennis player Martina Navratilova, actress and writer Fannie Flagg, socialite Judy Nelson and politician Elaine Noble. [1]

Brown enjoys American fox hunting and is master of her Fox Hunt Club. She has also played polo and started the woman-only Blue Ridge Polo Club.[5]

Writing career


Brown began her writing career with poetry:

  • The Hand That Cradles the Rock (1971)
  • Songs to a Handsome Woman (1973)


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:

  • Wish You Were Here (1990)
  • Rest in Pieces (1992)
  • Murder at Monticello (1994)
  • Pay Dirt (1995)
  • Murder, She Meowed (1996)
  • Murder on the Prowl (1998)
  • Cat on the Scent (1999)
  • Pawing Through the Past (2000)
  • Claws and Effect (2001)
  • Catch as Cat Can (2002)
  • The Tail of the Tip-Off (2003)
  • Whisker of Evil (2004)
  • Cat's Eyewitness (2005)
  • Sour Puss (2006)
  • Puss n' Cahoots (2007)
  • The Purrfect Murder(2008)

Rita Mae 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.[5] In 2000 she began another mystery series, centered around a fox hunting club in Virginia lead by "Sister" Jane Arnold. Books include:

  • Outfoxed (2000)
  • Hotspur (2002)
  • Full Cry (2003)
  • The Hunt Ball (2005)
  • The Hounds and the Fury (2006)
  • The Tell-Tale Horse (2007)


Brown has published the nonfiction Starting from Scratch: A Different Kind of Writer's Manual and the autobiography Rita Will: Memoir of a Literary Rabble-Rouser. 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:

  • Murder She Purred: A Mrs. Murphy Mystery (1998) (TV)
  • Mary Pickford: A Life on Film (1997)
  • The Woman Who Loved Elvis (1993) (TV)
  • Rich Men, Single Women (1990) (TV)
  • Me and Rubyfruit (1989)
  • My Two Loves (1986)
  • The Long Hot Summer (1985)
  • The Slumber Party Massacre (1982)
  • I Love Liberty (1982)

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


  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. 3.0 3.1 Related by Brown in her autobiography Rita Will.
  4. "Rita Mae Brown: Loves Cats, Hates Marriage", Andrea Sachs, Time Magazine, March 18 2008
  5. 5.0 5.1 Rita Mae Brown Website Bio, retrieved May 24, 2007.

External links

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