Rule, Jane 1931-2007 (Jane Vance Rule)

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Rule, Jane 1931-2007 (Jane Vance Rule)


See index for CA sketch: Born March 28, 1931, in Plainfield, NJ; died of liver cancer, November 27, 2007, on Galiano Island, British Columbia, Canada. Novelist, short-story writer, and essayist. Rule left the United States in the 1950s, during the repressive years of the McCarthy era, when people perceived as "different" were frequently regarded with suspicion and subjected to discrimination. She spent the rest of her life in Canada, where she became known as the country's leading literary representative of the lesbian community. Her first novel, Desert of the Heart (1964), was considered groundbreaking at the time, not only because it was the story of two women in love, but because of the author's capacity to portray a lesbian affair in a frank but dignified manner, without the sensational elements that came to characterize some early lesbian fiction. Though it took three years for the completed novel to appear in bookstores, it was eventually adapted as the 1985 film Desert Hearts. Rule taught English at the University of Vancouver for nearly twenty years, and it was not until she abandoned the lectern in 1970 that she resumed her writing career in earnest. She published several novels, including This Is Not for You (1970) and After the Fire (1989), and an assortment of short stories. Rule also wrote some essays, collected in Lesbian Images (1975) and Outlander (1981), but she was not a prolific essayist. She accepted her role as a voice for the gay and lesbian community, but aside from her strong objections to government censorship, she viewed herself primarily as a fiction writer, not an activist. Rule spent the latter years of her life on a small island near Vancouver, where some of her later fiction is set. Her output dwindled as she aged, reportedly (in part) because she felt she had completed her message, but her reputation has outlived her. Rule's many honors included an award of merit from the Fund for Human Dignity in 1983 and the Order of Canada, which was bestowed in 2006.



Contemporary Novelists, 7th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 2001.

Feminist Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.

Gay & Lesbian Biography, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1997.


Los Angeles Times, December 7, 2007, p. B11.

New York Times, December 10, 2007, p. A23.

Times (London, England), December 13, 2007, p. 71.


Fiction and Other Truths: A Film about Jane Rule (documentary), Cinema Guild, 1995.

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Rule, Jane 1931-2007 (Jane Vance Rule)

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