Bawdy and moving, the ultimate word-of-mouth bestseller, Rubyfruit Jungle is about growing up a lesbian in America–and living happily ever after. The book takes a stance that is different from many a coming-out novel, beginning with the assumption that there’s nothing wrong or strange about being in love with a person of your gender. For many still, Rubyfruit Jungle is a favorite.
Rita Mae Brown studied classics ant NYU 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.