Joanna Russ (February 22, 1937 – April 29, 2011) was an American writer, academic and radical feminist. She is the author of a number of works of science fiction, fantasy and feminist literary criticism such as How to Suppress Women’s Writing, as well as a contemporary novel, On Strike Against God, and one children’s book, Kittatinny. She is best known for The Female Man, a novel combining utopian fiction and satire, and the story “When It Changed“.
Joanna Russ was born in The Bronx, New York City, to Evarett I. and Bertha (née Zinner) Russ, both teachers. Her family was Jewish. She began creating works of fiction at a very early age. Over the following years she filled countless notebooks with stories, poems, comics and illustrations, often hand-binding the material with thread.
As a senior at William Howard Taft High School, Russ was selected as one of the top ten Westinghouse Science Talent Search winners. She graduated from Cornell University, where she studied with Vladimir Nabokov, in 1957, and received her MFA from the Yale Drama School in 1960. She was briefly married to Albert Amateau.
Russ taught at Queensborough Community College from 1966-1967, at Cornell from 1967-1972, SUNY Binghamton, from 1972-1975, and at the University of Colorado, Boulder, from 1975-1977. In 1977 she started teaching at the University of Washington. She became a full professor in 1984 and retired in 1991. Russ was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship in 1974-1975.