Novelist and pioneer of lesbian writing Jane Rule has died aged 76, due to complications from liver cancer. Rule's first novel Desert of the Heart was published in 1964 after 22 separate rejections from publishers. The novel featured two women who fell in love with each other, and was one of the first books written openly and favourably about being a lesbian. Following its release, Rule received a flood of letters from "very unhappy, even desperate" women who said they felt they were alone and would be miserable. The novel was later filmed under the title Desert Heats. Born in 1931 in New Jersey, Rule was raised in the Midwest and California, and moved to Canada in the 1950s, going on to teach at the University of British Columbia. Rule met her partner Helen Sonthoff while she was teaching in Massachusetts, and the pair lived together in British Columbia until Sonthoff's death in 2000. Rule surprised some in the gay community a few years back by declaring herself against gay marriage. "To be forced back into the heterosexual cage of coupledom is not a step forward but a step back into state-imposed definitions of relationship," she wrote. "With all that we have learned, we should be helping our heterosexual brothers and sisters out of their state-defined prisons, not volunteering to join them there." A mentor and inspiration to lesbian writers across the globe, Rule died last week at her home in Galiano Island, refusing any treatment that would take her away from the island.
Credit: GayNZ.com News Staff
First published: Saturday, 1st December 2007 - 10:44am
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