Isabel Miller

Isabel Miller (pen name of Alma Routsong, born Elma Louise Routsong, November 26, 1924 – October 4, 1996) was an American author.

Miller began college, in 1942, and graduated in art from Michigan State University, in 1949. During World War II, she served two years in the U.S. Navy.

Miller married Bruce Brodie in 1947, and their first daughter was born in 1949. The couple had four daughters. In 1962, Miller met Elizabeth Deran at a church event and they fell in love. That same year, Isabel divorced her husband.

Deran was forced to leave her job, when their relationship became known. They then moved to Greenwich Village in the 1960’s, and Miller became involved in the queer community. She joined the Gay Liberation Movement in 1970, and took part in the meetings held at the Daughters of Bilitis (the first national lesbian political and social organization in the United States), where she was once arrested during a police raid.

“One of the things Gay people need is to have our artists pay attention to us, use us as their topic. It’s disappointing when Gay people with big talent don’t want to give it to us.” Isabel Miller. Interview

Miller began her literary career in 1953, and published two novels under her own name (A Gradual Joy and Round Shape). In 1969, she self-published A Place for Us under the pseudonym Isabel Miller, after numerous rejections from publishers. She sold copies of it at Daughters of Bilitis meetings, and the novel was then picked up by a publisher and reissued as Patience and Sarah, in 1971. It won the first Stonewall Book Award in 1971.

Miller and Deran separated in the 1970’s. Between 1968 and 1971, Miller worked as an editor at Columbia University, and, from the mid-1970s until 1986, she worked as a proof-reader for Time Magazine. Miller lived with artist Julie Weber in Poughkeepsie, New York, for the last 18 years of her life.

She died of ovarian cancer, on October 4th, 1996.

Books

  • A Gradual Joy (1953) 
  • Round Shape (1959)
  • A Place for Us (1969)
  • The Love of Good Women (1986)
  • Side by Side (1990)
  • A Dooryard Full of Flowers: and Other Short Pieces (1993)
  • Laurel (1996)

About her

  • Completely Queer: The Gay and Lesbian Encyclopedia, by Steve Hogan and Lee Hudson (1998)
  • American Women Writers, Carol Hurd Green and Mary Grimley Mason (1994)
  • Interview
  • Before Stonewall: Activists for gay and lesbian rights in historical context, Ver Bullough (2002)
  • Contemporary Lesbian Writers of the United States, Sandra Pollack and Denise D. Knight (1993)
  • Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A, ed. Jonathan Katz (1976)
  • Gay and Lesbian Literature, ed. Sharon Malinowski (1994)
  • The Safe Sea of Women, Lesbian Fiction, 1969-1989, by Bonnie Zimmerman (1990)

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