Austin, Mary

Austin, Mary

▪ American writer
née  Mary Hunter 
born Sept. 9, 1868, Carlinville, Ill., U.S.
died Aug. 13, 1934, Santa Fe, N.M.
 novelist and essayist who wrote about Native American culture and social problems.

      Mary Hunter graduated from Blackburn College in 1888 and soon afterward moved with her family to Bakersfield, California. She married Stafford W. Austin in 1891, and for several years they lived in various towns in California's Owens Valley. Mary Austin soon learned to love the desert and the Native Americans who lived in it, and both figured in the sketches that constituted her first book, The Land of Little Rain (1903), which was a great and immediate success. It was followed by a collection of stories, The Basket Woman (1904), a romantic novel, Isidro (1905), and a collection of regional sketches, The Flock (1906).

      In 1905 Austin separated from her husband and moved to Carmel, California. She later traveled to Italy, France, and England, where meeting H.G. Wells (Wells, H.G.) and other intellectuals strengthened her feminist ideas and added a strong commitment to socialism to her own deeply personal and sustaining form of mysticism. Returning to New York City, she became associated with John Reed (Reed, John), Walter Lippmann (Lippmann, Walter), and others of the group of writers and artists whose centre was Mabel Dodge Luhan (Luhan, Mabel Dodge). A play, The Arrow Maker (1911), and her best novel, A Woman of Genius (1912), were the product of those New York years, as were scores of rather didactic articles on socialism, women's rights, and a variety of other topics and such novels as The Ford (1917) and No. 26 Jayne Street (1920).

      In 1924 Austin settled in Santa Fe, New Mexico. That year she published The Land of Journeys' Ending and followed it with, among other books, Everyman's Genius (1925), The Children Sing in the Far West (1928; like her earlier The American Rhythm [1923], a collection of Native American songs and original poems inspired by them), Starry Adventure (1931), Experiences Facing Death (1931), and an autobiography, Earth Horizon (1932).

      Austin's best writing, which is concerned with nature or Native American life, is reminiscent of the work of Ralph Waldo Emerson (Emerson, Ralph Waldo) and John Muir (Muir, John) in its transcendental tone and occasional primitivist leaning. She was active in movements to preserve Native American arts, crafts, and culture.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Austin, Mary Hunter — (1868 1934)    Mary Hunter was born in Carlinville, Illinois, and moved with her family to California in 1888.    She had begun writing and teaching before she married Stafford Wallace Austin in 1890. Apart from her 1911 play The Arrow Maker, she …   The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater

  • Mary Austin — Mary Hunter Austin um 1900 Fotografie von Charles Fletcher Lummis Mary Hunter Austin (* 9. September 1868 in Carlinville, Illinois; † 13. August 1934 in Santa Fe, New Mexico) war eine …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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  • Mary Austin Holley — (1784–1846) was an American historical writer best known as the author of the first known English language history of Texas, Texas (1833), expanded in 1836 into History of Texas.[1] She was a cousin of Stephen F. Austin, who arranged for Holley… …   Wikipedia

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