Jill Johnston

2012 Hall of Fame Inductee

Jill Johnston was born in London, England on May 17, 1929, and was raised in Little Neck, New York. She attended college in Massachusetts and Minnesota, then earned an MFA from the University of North Carolina. In 1958, she married Richard John Lanham, whom she divorced in 1964; she married Ingrid Nyeboe in Denmark in 1993, and in Connecticut in 2009. Johnston was named dance critic by the Village Voice in 1959. At first her reviews were traditional in form and content, even after the postmodern dance movement started in 1962. As the 1960s went along, Johnston’s writing experimented with what she called a “fractured dada style.” She continued at the Voice until 1981, while also writing for Art News. Starting in the 1980s, Johnston wrote for The New York Times Book Review and Art in America. Her journalism was republished in five anthologies, the first one being Marmalade Me, in 1971. But Johnston is best known, and most influential, with her book, Lesbian Nation: The Feminist Solution, published in 1973. Kate Millett called it “the most important book to come out of the women’s movement.” It advocated a lesbian separatist movement, and for decades she was at the center of numerous important debates in both lesbian and feminist movements. Johnston died Sept. 18, 2010.