Austin, Mary (b. Hunter)(1868–1934) writer, naturalist; born in Carlinville, Ill. After graduating from Blackburn College (1888), she moved to California, married, and settled in the Owens Valley; her close observations of desert and Indian life there informed her first book, The Land of Little Rain (1903). After separating from her husband (1905), she lived in Carmel, Calif., and New York City; in the latter she became associated with the circle of Mabel Dodge and she was influenced by Dodge to settle permanently in Santa Fe, N.M., from 1924 on. Her move to New Mexico rekindled her interest in the natural world of the desert and Indian culture. Her 32 books and more than 200 articles include poetry, realistic fiction (A Woman of Genius, 1912), and pioneering studies of Native American life (The American Rhythm, 1923). Her autobiography, Earth Horizon (1932), conveys the mystical, feminist, and socialist philosophy that she developed.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.