illustration ©2011 Arnold Arre

 

GERTRUDE ATHERTON

Born Gertrude Horn in 1857 in San Francisco, young Gertrude had a difficult childhood. Her parents divorced when she was two years old, and she spent most of her childhood on her grandfather’s ranch in San Jose, California. Her mother briefly married and divorced a second time, then started dating wealthy heir George H. Bowen Atherton. Atherton soon decided he preferred the daughter, and eloped with 18-year-old Gertrude in 1876. Mr. Atherton did not approve of his young wife’s writing ambitions, and her first novel, The Randolphs of Redwood, was published anonymously in 1882. After her husband’s death in 1887, Gertrude was free to write openly, and went on to publish short stories, essays, magazine articles and fifty-six books. She traveled widely, and was a key figure in the early feminist movement. Ms. Atherton is today best remembered for her “California Series” of novels and short stories dealing with the social history of California, and her semi-autobiographical novel Black Oxen (1923), about a middle-aged woman who miraculously becomes young again via glandular therapy. “La Perdida” was first published in her collection Before the Gringo Came (1894).

Western Classics:
Graphic Classics Volume 20

144 pages, color, $15

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