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Jane Rule was born in New Jersey in 1931 and came to Canada in 1956, where she later taught at the University of British Columbia. Her first novel, Desert of the Heart (1964), in which two women fall in love in 1950s Reno, Nevada, was successful as a 1985 feature film titled Desert Hearts.
Rule emerged as one of the most respected writers in Canada with her many novels, essays and collections of short stories, including Theme for Diverse Instruments (1975). She received the Canadian Authors Association best novel and best short story awards, the American Gay Academic Literature Award, the U.S. Fund for Human Dignity Award of Merit, the Canadian National Institute for the Blind’s Talking Book of the Year Award and an honorary doctorate of letters from the University of British Columbia.
In 1996, Jane Rule received the George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award for an Outstanding Literary Career in British Columbia. She passed away in 2007.
BOOK AWARDSTaking My Life
24th Annual Lambda Literary Award Finalist (2012)”
QUOTES OF NOTETaking My Life
“A hella interesting early lesbian writer with a unique style … Her writing is dry, ironic, unemotional, and direct, yet understated. It is not the kind that you whip through; rather, it’s a languishing over, doubling back to catch the dry humour kind of prose. … this memoir likely won’t intrigue you much unless you’re already a fan of Jane Rule or you have a special interest in 20th century herstory. If you fall into either of those camps though, you’re in for a treat. … as well, it sports an absolutely gorgeous cover featuring a painting of Rule by Ann Smith, who was a friend and lover of hers. … I’m glad this work is accessible to the larger public, and in this gorgeous edition to boot.”
—Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian (blog)
"Whether it serves as an introduction to a new literary voice or an illumination of an already beloved one, this book offers fascinating insight into Rule’s formative years as a provocateur, intellectual, lover, and writer."
"This unexpected, astonishing opportunity to visit the early emotional and intellectual world and nascent sexuality of arguably the most significant lesbian writer of the twentieth century is a publishing event of the first order. Told from the perspective of her later years, Jane Rule’s recently discovered memoir affords the pleasure of newly visiting the richness of an exceptional mind, her humor, compassion, and candor. Filled with deeply personal revelations, Taking My Life conveys the confusion, poignancy, defiant rebellions and historical realities of Jane’s first footsteps toward womanhood, toward becoming a lesbian, toward her destiny as one of our great writers."
—Katherine V. Forrest
"With her signature wit, intellect, and insight, Jane Rule recounts her childhood, youth and coming of age as a young lesbian in 1950s America, as it was on its crest toward the civil rights, gay, and women’s movements. The seeds of Rule’s passion for writing and for social justice resonate in this thoughtful, textured, honest memoir."
—Karen X. Tulchinsky
"[A] delicious, wholly satisfying autobiography. I’m going to go out on a limb to say that, if you read no other book this year, read this one. There’s not a wasted word."
"In taking the measure of her own life, Rule challenges readers to examine themselves, to look at her words through their own hearts, and to examine their own relationships with the same honesty and integrity that Rule herself embodied so well. In all aspects of the book, Rule’s incredible determination shines through, proving again and again that with nothing more than a solidly entrenched sense of morality and a little risk-taking, even those of us who might seem the most unlikely candidates can succeed beyond our wildest imaginings."
"In Taking My Life, Rule the realist has illuminated with insight, joyousness, tenderness and even pain the influences that were to shape her as a writer and as a sexual being. It’s an absorbing read. Her great openness about relationships, her insistence on the creation of community, her pursuit of truth – she “studied the great (male) liars in college in order to find out how to tell the truth” – is very much in evidence here. ‘If it’s real in the world,’ she has said elsewhere, ‘you’d better understand it.’ Thanks to Linda M. Morra’s discovery, Taking My Life can only increase our understanding of the pragmatic and compassionate Jane Rule."
—M.A.C. Farrant, Globe & Mail
"[A] beautiful piece of dryly ironic writing, deeply thought out and intellectually honest, almost to the point of pain. Morra has edited this volume with loving, scholarly care."
—George Fetherling, Quill & Quire
QUOTES OF NOTEDesert of the Heart
“Cool, clear-eyed, compassionate and unsentimental.”
— Globe and Mail
“An intelligent and utterly believable novel.”
— Joyce Carol Oates
“In the context of lesbian literary history, Desert of the Heart is among the first novels to end happily, or at least end with the idea that happiness might be achievable … The novel is a sweetly sentimental coming out story and the sentimentality works particularly well 40 years later because it takes on a retro charm.”
— Xtra! Toronto
QUOTES OF NOTETheme for Diverse Instruments
“Cool, clear-eyed, compassionate and unsentimental, Jane Rule’s work compares very well with the best fiction written anywhere.” —Margaret Laurence, Globe and Mail
We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts; the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF); and the Province of British Columbia through the British Columbia Arts Council for our publishing activities.