Born in Plainfield, New Jersey in 1931, Rule had lived in British Columbia since the 1950s. Rule was inducted into the Order of Canada last summer, Canada’s highest civilian honor. According to Arsenal Pulp Press, the current publisher of Rule’s 1977 novel, The Young in One Another’s Arms, in January of 2007, Rule was awarded the Alice B. Toklas Medal “for her long and storied career as a lesbian novelist.”
Writing in The Globe and Mail today, Sandra Martin described Rule as, “Writer, teacher, cultural nationalist and lesbian role model,” in a lengthy and affectionate obituary:
The author of a dozen books, including the novels Desert of the Heart, This is not for You and Memory Board, and the non-fiction essays Lesbian Images, Ms. Rule brought the idea of women loving women into the quotidian world both in her personal life, which was lived openly for nearly 50 years with her partner Helen Sonthoff, and in her writing.
She explored the conflict between desire and convention and the constriction that fear can extol on intimacy, joyfulness and freedom. Her fiction falls into the category of social realism, but it was always driven by character rather than polemics. Typically an ensemble of homosexual and heterosexual characters interact, often communally, to represent the position of the artist in society or to confront bureaucratic oppression of difference.