Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Mary Hunter Austin  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Fiction Non-Fiction Poetry

Audience: Adult;

Born: September 9, 1868 in Carlinville, Illinois

Died: 1934, Sante Fe, New Mexico

-- Mary Hunter Austin on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Austin was born in Carlinville and lived there until she graduated from Blackburn College in 1888. It was at that time, she moved with her family to California.

Biographical and Professional Information

Mary Hunter Austin was a prolific novelist, poet, critic, and playwright. She was one of the early nature writers of the American Southwest, her classic The Land of Little Rain (1903) describes the fauna, flora and people – as well as evoking the mysticism and spirituality – of the region between the High Sierra and the Mojave Desert of southern California.

In 1929, while living in New Mexico, Austin co-authored a book with photographer Ansel Adams. Published a year later, the book, Taos Pueblo, was printed in a limited edition of only 108 copies. It is now quite rare because it included actual photographs made by Adams rather than reproductions.

Mount Mary Austin, in the Sierra Nevada, was named in her honor.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Earth Horizon: An Autobiography
ISBN: 0826313167

Univ of New Mexico Pr. 1991

Slight shelf wear. Some writing marks.

ISBN: 0404004199

Ams Pr Inc. 1969

A Woman of Genius (Rediscovered Fiction by American Women)
ISBN: 0405100434

Ayer Co Pub. 1977

The Flock (Western Literature Series)
ISBN: 0874173558

University of Nevada Press. 2001

This classic novel, first published in 1906 and based on Mary Austin's own experiences, captures the way of life of shepherds in the Sierra. Austin blends natural history, politics, and allegory in a genre-blurring narrative, championing local shepherds in their losing battle against the quickly developing tourist business in the Western Sierra during the nineteenth century. Austin had met many shepherds while visiting the Tejon ranches of Edward Beale and Henry Miller, and cultivated relationships with men others often thought of as ignorant, unambitious, and dirty, listening closely to their stories. Her neighbors were scandalized, but Austin respected the shepherds’ ways of thinking. Rather than portray these shepherds’ lives as part of a romantic bygone era, in this novel, she instead positions them as exemplifying potentially radical ways of living in and thinking about the world. Afterword by Barney Nelson.