Mary Hunter Austin, born Mary Hunter, (1868-1934) was an American poet and essayist who chronicled the American southwest. Her works include Isidro (1905), A Woman of Genius (1912), The Ford (1917), and Earth Horizon (1932).
Life and Works
Mary Austin was born Mary Hunter on September 9, 1868, to an unemotional mother and a father who has contracted malaria and died when she was ten. Her sister Jennie died as well, and the trauma led her to produce her own private religion, counseling with something inside her, which led her to become a writer. She moved to rural California for her writing, and became a naturalist, essayist, and feminist. She married a man there, and they built a homestead together, but she moved to Carmel in a water dispute and joined a literary circle.
Her first book, Land of Little Rain (1903), was a collection of essays about the ways of life of the Southwest; her second book, The Flock (1906), describes the history of raising sheep. She considered the Southwest to be the most desolate place the Lord ever created, and found many broken relationships there. After leaving her husband, she turned from nature poetry, moved to New York, traveled to Europe, and met liberal intellectuals such as H.G. Wells, which encouraged her to write more feminist works such as A Woman of Genius (1912) and added a support for socialism to her causes.
She died on August 13, 1934, and had a mountain named in her honor.
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