Ruth Fuller Field (1864-1930)
Ruth Fuller Field, who published her book Stone Wall: Autobiography of an American Lesbian under the pen name Mary Casal, was born into a poor, rural New England family. Her book tells of her trials trying to fit in as a heterosexual woman, but eventually accepting her identity. After marriage and giving birth to two children who died shortly after childbirth, and a brief stint as a teacher before being fired for her “immoral” sexual attractions, Field eventually accepted her identity, living with different lovers around the United States for the rest of her life.
Stone Wall, like the works of later lesbians like Adrienne Rich and Audre Lorde, is as much a criticism of sexism as it is of heterosexism. While reading, pay attention to how Field’s existence as a woman who exists as “one of the boys” subverts gender roles while also fulfilling what will later be called “butch” behavior.