“When I spoke up for women’s issues, I was made to feel unwelcome in my own department, kept off crucial committees, ridiculed, ignored,” says Heilbrun a month or so later, perched on a sofa in her large, light Central Park West apartment, an elderly Maine coon cat in her lap. “Ironically, my name in the catalogue gave Columbia a reputation for encouraging feminist studies in modernism. Nothing could be further from the truth…It’s like a marriage ending,” she says. “Sad, exhausting — and infuriating, because Columbia will continue to be run by male professors who behave like little boys saying, ‘This is our secret treehouse club, no girls allowed.’ Well, I’m sick of the treehouse gang.”
Her campus mystery novels, with their sharp descriptions of petty departmental politics, still feel current today. Her work has been translated into several languages and her books have sold nearly a million copies worldwide.