Mary Austin: Song of a Maverick

Esther Lanigan Stineman, Author, Esther F. Lanigan, Author Yale University Press $28 (269p) ISBN 978-0-300-04255-9
Nature writer, feminist, poet and novelist, Mary Austin (1868-1934) broke away from a Methodist upbringing in Illinois by moving to California. Fleeing the San Francisco earthquake in 1906, she made her haven the Carmel artists' colony. She wore an Indian princess's leather gown, wrote in a Paiute wickiup or hut perched in a tree, and had literary relations with Ambrose Bierce, Jack London and William James. Unhappily married, she found an alter ego in Julia, suicidal heroine of her novel Santa Lucia , who embodied a farsight e d critique of modern marriage. Austin spent a dozen years in New York, where she chafed at what she considered a provincial Eastern literary establishment. Following the example of her associate, Mabel Dodge Luhan, she built an adobe house in Santa Fe, where she fought to preserve Indian arts and collaborated with photographer Ansel Adams. This scholarly study resurrects a largely forgotten figure and will be of interest primarily to specialists. Stineman teaches English at the College of William and Mary in Virginia. Photos. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1989
Release date: 09/01/1989
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