Gabrielle Burton's book I'm Running Away From Home But I'm Not Allowed to Cross the Street (1975), a comedic primer on the women's movement, launched her national reputation as a writer. She was the mother of five girls struggling with the typical problems of balancing parenthood, marriage, writing, and other pursuits. She and her husband Roger V. Burton, a jazz musician, psychology professor, and actor, took extraordinary trips with their daughters -- hitchhiking through Alaska, camping while researching the exact route of the Donner Party, and backpacking through southeast Asia. Her first novel, Heartbreak Hotel (1986) was awarded the Maxwell Perkins Prize. She decided to move into screenwriting, and was accepted for the MFA program in screenwriting at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles, where she won the Mary Pickford Prize. AFI produced two of her short films. She was named a Nicholl Screenwriting Fellow by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, one of the most coveted prizes in screenwriting. Her screenplay for the comedy film Manna From Heaven (2002) was a "critics pick" of the Washington Post. Searching For Tamsen Donner (2009), a family memoir, includes all of Tamsen Donner's known letters collected and published in one place for the first time. Burton's novel Impatient With Desire: The Lost Journal of Tamsen Donner (2010), was awarded the Western Heritage Award for outstanding novel. Gabrielle Burton has been a teacher, public speaker, judge for literary prizes, and a member of the American Heritage Dictionary Usage Panel.
She is member of peace and equal rights groups, campaigned as a delegate for Shirley Chisholm's run for President, worked on several commercials for Barack Obama's presidential campaign, and worked with Five Sisters Productions (her five daughters) on public service ads against human trafficking in the USA. She is a mentor for the Afghan Women's Writing Project. Her articles, essays, and reviews have appeared in national publications including the Washington Post, The New York Times, Family Circle, and Ms. Magazine. She's a blogger on The Huffington Post and The Nervous Breakdown.