Rona Jaffe


Biography of Rona Jaffe

Rona Jaffe (June 12, 1931 – December 30, 2005) was a popular American novelist, publishing numerous works from 1958-2003. She may have been best known for her controversial novel, Mazes and Monsters (1981). During the 1960s she also wrote cultural pieces for the magazine Cosmopolitan as the new editor Helen Gurley Brown markedly changed its character.

Born in Brooklyn, New York City, Jaffe grew up in affluent circumstances on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, the only child of Samuel Jaffe, an elementary-school principal, and his first wife, Diana (née Ginsberg). Her maternal grandfather was Moses Ginsberg, a millionaire construction magnate who built the Carlyle Hotel.

Jaffe wrote her first book, The Best of Everything, while working as an associate editor at Fawcett Publications in the 1950s. Published in 1958, it was later adapted as a movie by the same title, starring Joan Crawford. The book has been described as distinctly "pre-women's liberation" in the way it depicts women in the working world. Camille Paglia noted in 2004 that the book and popular HBO series Sex and the City had much in common in that the characters in both (who have similar lives) are "very much at the mercy of cads."

During the late 1960s Jaffe was hired by Helen Gurley Brown to write cultural pieces for Cosmopolitan, with a "Sex and the Single Girl" slant.

In 1981 she published Mazes and Monsters, which depicted a Dungeons & Dragons-like game that caused disorientation and hallucinations among its players and incited them to violence and attempted suicide. The book was controversial as it appeared to be based in part on the apocryphal 1979 steam tunnel incident. Soon it seemed related to Patricia Pulling's accusations in the 1980s that D&D and other role-playing games encouraged devil worship and other "evils". The book was adapted as a television movie starring a young Tom Hanks.

Jaffe published seventeen novels during her career.

She died in 2005 in London from cancer, aged 74.

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