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 Mary <I>Hunter</I> Austin

Mary Hunter Austin

Carlinville, Macoupin County, Illinois, USA
Death 13 Aug 1934 (aged 65)
Santa Fe, Santa Fe County, New Mexico, USA
Burial Cremated, Other, Specifically: Ashes Placed in Crypt on Mount Pichaco
Memorial ID 7438741 · View Source
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Novelist, Poet, Critic and Playwright. Mary Hunter Austin was born in Carlinville, Illinois to George and Susannah (Graham) Hunter. She graduated from Blackburn College in 1888. Her family moved to California in the same year and established a homestead in the San Joaquin Valley. She married Stafford Wallace Austin on May 23, 1890 in Bakersfield, California. He was from Hawaii and a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley. On October 31, 1891, they had their only child, Ruth, who tragically died from birth injuries. She and her husband were involved in the local California Water Wars, in which the water of Owens Valley was eventually drained to supply Los Angeles. Soon afterward, her marriage failed; her husband moved to Oakland, California in 1907 where he practiced law and continued a very successful life. For 17 years she made a special study of Indian life in the Mojave Desert, and her publications set forth the intimate knowledge she thus acquired. She was a prolific novelist, poet, critic, and playwright, as well as an early feminist and defender of Native American and Spanish-American rights. She published 32 books, 2 plays and over 250 articles. She is known for her tribute to the deserts of California in her book, The Land of Little Rain (1903). Her play, The Arrow Maker, dealing with Indian life, was produced at the New Theater, (New York) in 1911, the same year she published a rhapsodic tribute to her acquaintance H.G. Wells as a producer of "informing, vitalizing, indispensable books" in the American Magazine. She moved to the art colony at Carmel-by-the-Sea, California in 1905. There she completed Isidro (1905), a novel about Missionary life. An extremely independent and outspoken female, she was ahead of her time as an advocate of women’s rights and protector of the environment. She encouraged other women in Carmel to pursue their literary talent, and she was active in the suffragist movement. She believed it was important to not pollute or destroy the natural landscape and spent a great deal of her time communing with natural beauty. She hiked frequently to nearby places in Carmel, Point Lobos, Carmel Mission, even to Monterey and Pacific Grove. She preferred to write out of doors in a small tree house , which she called the “wick-i-up”. It was her place of inspiration. In her letters she said, “The charm of Carmel was formerly in the extraordinary beauty of the place, in the great simplicity of life there, and the fact that there were no days in the year when you couldn’t work with comfort.” While living in Carmel, she played an important role in the creative Bohemian society headed by George Sterling. She spent hours on the Carmel beach with her comrades and co-authors of the era including: Jack London, Ambrose Bierce, Harry Leon Wilson, George Sterling, Nora May French, Arnold Genthe, James Hopper, Alice MacGowan, Gelett Burgess, Sinclair Lewis, and Xavier Martinez. Also, she was one of the founders of the local Forest Theater, where in 1913 she premiered and directed her three-act play Fire; George Sterling was one of the actors in the play. After she returned from a publicity excursion to Europe in 1914 her visits to Carmel were relatively brief. In 1915, she received an appointment as director of East Coast publicity for San Francisco’s Panama-Pacific International Exposition. In 1918, she decided to move to Santa Fe, New Mexico. There, she helped establish The Santa Fe Little Theater, which is still operating today as The Santa Fe Playhouse. She directed the group's first production held February 14, 1919. She was also active in preserving the local culture of New Mexico, establishing the Spanish Colonial Arts Society in 1925 with artist Frank Applegate. In 1929, she 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. She was cremated and her ashes were interred in a crypt on Mount Pichaco. Meanwhile, in the Sierra Nevada mountains, "Mount Mary Austin" was named in her honor. It is located west of her longtime home in Independence, California.

Bio by: Phil Mullen

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Laurie
  • Added: 13 May 2003
  • Find A Grave Memorial 7438741
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Mary Hunter Austin (9 Sep 1868–13 Aug 1934), Find A Grave Memorial no. 7438741, ; Maintained by Find A Grave Cremated, Other, who reports a Ashes Placed in Crypt on Mount Pichaco.