(Vancouver, British Columbia) Jane Rule, one of the pioneers of lesbian fiction, has died complications from liver cancer. She was 76.
Born in New Jersey on March 28, 1931, Jane Rule was raised in the American Midwest and California.
In 1952 she graduated from Mills College and moved to Canada four years later, settling in British Columbia. Rule taught intermittently at the University of British Columbia until 1976 when she moved to Galiano Island to devote her full time to writing.
She is celebrated internationally for her fiction and her non-fiction.
Her career began in 1964 with the publication of her novel Desert of the Heart. One critic at the time wrote of the lesbian themed book: "But all the time you keep turning to the photograph of the author on the jacket and wondering how such a nice looking woman could ever have chosen do distasteful a subject."
But that is why Jane Rule was so important. Rule was one of the first out-writers to write openly about being a lesbian in major fiction.
But, it was her 1975 book "Lesbian Issues" that catapulted her onto the world stage. Rule attempted to set down what it means to be a lesbian. To do this, she beautifully measured her own attitudes toward sexuality against the images made by other women writers including Gertrude Stein, Willa Cather, Radclyffe Hall, Vita Sackville-West and others.
In all Rule authored twelve books all showing her to be a keen observer of social and emotional relationships.
Her partner, Helen Sonthoff whom she had met during a brief teaching tenure in Massachusetts followed her to British Columbia. The two lived together until Sonthoff's death in 2000.
Rule served on the executive of the Writers' Union of Canada. She was an avid naturalist and mentored a number of lesbian writers around the world.