Rita Mae Brown Analysis

Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Rita Mae Brown is a versatile and prolific writer. In addition to her novels, many of which she says she wrote with her cat, Sneaky Pie Brown, she has published an autobiography, Rita Will: Memoir of a Literary Rabble-Rouser (1997); a collection of political articles, A Plain Brown Rapper (1976); and two books of poetry, The Hand That Cradles the Rock (1971) and Songs to a Handsome Woman (1973). In 1982, she produced a screenplay, The Slumber Party Massacre, and a teleplay, I Love Liberty, followed by the creation of other film and television scripts. She has published articles, book reviews, and short stories in periodicals including Horse Country, Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Times, Ms. magazine, and Vogue. Brown has also written introductions for reprinted editions of her novels and for several other authors’ books, including The Troll Garden (1905) by Willa Cather.


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

The Massachusetts Council on Arts and Humanities presented Rita Mae Brown with a grant in 1974. That year she was also given a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship. Brown was a member of the Literature Panel for the National Endowment for the Arts from 1978 to 1982, and she received the National Endowment for the Arts fiction grant in 1978. In 1982, her teleplay I Love Liberty was nominated for an Emmy Award for Best Variety Show, and it received the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Variety Show on Television. She received another Emmy nomination for The Long Hot Summer in 1985. Brown was named a Literary Lion by the New York Public Library in 1987. She is a member of the International Academy of Poets and the International Association of Poets, Playwrights, Editors, Essayists, and Novelists (PEN). Wilson College awarded Brown an honorary doctorate in humanities in 1992.

Several of Brown’s mysteries have been Library of Virginia Literary Awards nominees. Many of her books have been New York Times best sellers and commercial book club selections, and many have been translated into numerous languages, including German, French, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Swedish, Danish, and Hebrew. Her landmark 1973 novel Rubyfruit Jungle has retained literary interest and has remained in print into the twenty-first century.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Boyle, Sharon D. “Rita Mae Brown.” In Contemporary Lesbian Writers of the United States: A Bio-bibliographical Critical Sourcebook, edited by Sandra Pollack and Denise D. Knight. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1993. Profiles Brown’s life and work. Includes an extended discussion of Rubyfruit Jungle and a useful bibliography.

Chew, Martha. “Rita Mae Brown: Feminist Theorist and Southern Novelist.” Southern Quarterly 22 (1983): 61-80. Chew shows how Brown’s early novels are informed by a specifically “lesbian feminist political vision,” whereas her later works are “increasingly directed toward a mainstream audience.”

Davies, Julia A. “Rita Mae Brown (1944- ).” In Significant Contemporary American Feminists: A Biographical Sourcebook, edited by Jennifer Scanlon. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1999. Analyzes how Brown’s political activities influenced her literary endeavors, particularly her novels featuring unconventional female protagonists and characters who challenge traditional gender roles.

Day, Frances Ann. “Molly Bolts and Lifelines: Rita Mae Brown’s Rubyfruit Jungle (1973).” In Women in Literature: Reading Through the Lens of Gender, edited by Jerilyn Fisher and Ellen S. Silber. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2003. Addresses the...

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