The Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women

Features thousands of biographic and thematic essays on Jewish women around the world. Learn more

Ellen Kushner

b. October 6, 1955

by JWA Staff
Our work to expand the Encyclopedia is ongoing. We are providing this brief biography for Ellen Kushner until we are able to commission a full entry.

Fantasy author Ellen Kushner in 2013. Photo courtesy of Delia Sherman via Wikimedia Commons.

Ellen Kushner’s revolutionary fantasy novel Swordspoint offered an important early example of a strong, successful gay hero in a committed relationship. Kushner graduated from Barnard College and worked as a fiction editor before writing five Choose Your Own Adventure novels starting in 1986. In 1987 she wrote Swordspoint, her first original novel, featuring a skilled swordfighter who survived the story with both his life and his male lover, something unheard of at the time in either fantasy or mainstream literature. In 1991 she wrote Thomas the Rhymer, based on a renaissance ballad, which won the World Fantasy Award and the Mythopoeic Award. She then wrote several more novels set in the same world as Swordspoint and in 2016 launched Tremontaine, an online serialized novel in the Swordspoint universe written in collaboration with several other writers. From 1996–2010 she hosted Sound & Spirit on WGBH, Boston’s NPR station. In 2008 she created a full stage version of her one-woman show The Golden Dreydl: A Klezmer Nutcracker for Vital Theatre, which played to sold-out audiences in New York. Almost twenty years after their 1996 wedding, Kushner and her longtime partner, Delia Sherman, were able to legally marry in 2004.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Ellen Kushner." (Viewed on December 1, 2023) <>.


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