Routsong was born in Traverse City, Michigan, in 1924, and
graduated from Michigan State College in 1949. Her pen name,
Isabel Miller, is the combination of an anagram for "Lesbia" and
her mother's birth name. Her first novel, A Gradual Joy,
is the story of a young married couple, MSU students living
a quonset hut apartment.
In 1963, Isabel Miller moved to New York and began writing
her best known book, A Place for Us, printed in an edition
of 1,000 copies paid for and sold by the author. With this
title, based on a true story of a 19th-century couple from
New York state, Miller began her career as lesbian novelist.
In 1971, the novel won the first annual Gay Book Award of the
American Library Association. Under its later title, Patience
and Sarah, Miller's novel became the most-cherished lesbian
love story of all time. The title story in A Dooryard
Full of Flowers and Other Short Pieces is a sequel. Miller died
in 1996, shortly before her last novel, Laurel, was published.