Mary Renault was a British writer best known for her wonderful historical novels that recreated in Ancient Greece in magnificent detail (I recommend The King Must Die and The Persian Boy). Renault met her life partner Julie Mullard in 1933 while they were training as nurses and they were together for 50 years, until Renault's death in 1983.
Jeanette Winterson is a British writer who has been out since the publication of her debut novel, Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, in 1985. Winterson is an outspoken public figure and has won several major literary awards. Recently she has been in the tabloids due to her relationship with the previously married psychotherapist Susie Orbach.
In an interview with The Times this week, she criticised the media for using the term 'lesbian' as a negative headline-grabbing stunt. Ironically The Times themselves then used that quote in much the same way with their article "Enough of the 'lesbian' tag, says author".
I have been collecting headlines from the tabloids and overwhelmingly, 'lesbian' (their favourite) or 'gay' is used negatively, as though once the sexuality is identified, the rest of the horror story (benefit fraud, underage sex, battering etcetera) naturally follows. There are some rotten no-good lesbians and some rotten no-good gay men, but there are rotten no-good heterosexuals too, and we don’t use sexuality as the explanation of whatever it is they have done.
- Jeanette Winterson