B. M. (Bertha Muzzy) Bower was the first woman to make a career of writing popular westerns. And what a career it was—more than sixty novels published from 1904 to 1940, the year of her death, and still more posthumously. In the western orbit, Bower was—and still is—a star.
Her first, Chip of the Flying U, lays out a ranch in Montana and introduces the Happy Family, the bunkhouse gang that reappears in her later books. Chip is the typical woman-shy cowboy, but he is also a gifted artist (reputedly, Bower based the character on Charles M. Russell, who illustrated Chip). Della, a doctor, is the young woman who disrupts his solitary life. The result as a quality ranch romance.
Chip of the Flying U was a great success that led to several movie versions, one of them casting Hoot Gibson as Chip. Today’s readers who grew up watching westerns on television will appreciate Bower’s cinematic style. After living much of her life in Chouteau County, Montana, she moved to Los Angeles, close to the movie industry that increasingly fascinated her.
Introducing this Bison Books edition is Mary Clearman Blew, a professor of English at the University of Idaho and the author of All but the Waltz: Essays on a Montana Family Balsamroot: A Memoir.