The Bower Atmosphere

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The Bower Atmosphere

A Biography of B. M. Bower

Victoria Lamont

216 pages
13 photographs, index

Paperback

March 2024

978-1-4962-3621-0

$24.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
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March 2024

978-1-4962-3906-8

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eBook (PDF)
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March 2024

978-1-4962-3907-5

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About the Book

B. M. (Bertha Muzzy) Bower was the first author to make a living writing popular westerns, creating more than sixty novels and hundreds of short stories that were read by millions of Americans. Bower’s were among the first westerns adapted to film, and the exploits of her cowboys at the fictional Flying U ranch established a tradition that flourishes to this day. A Montana mother of three, she began writing short stories in 1900, desperate for money that would allow her to leave her unhappy marriage to a cowboy employed by the McNamara ranch.

Discouraged by her editors from publicizing her identity as a woman, Bower’s important contribution to American mass culture faded from cultural memory after her death in 1940. Based on extensive research in Bower’s personal archives and publishers’ records, as well as interviews with some of her descendants, The Bower Atmosphere recounts the remarkable twists and turns of Bower’s life, from her beginnings on a Montana cattle ranch to her success as a writer of serial westerns, all the while contending with the conflicting pressures of editors, husbands, children, and her own creative aspirations.

Author Bio

Victoria Lamont is a professor of English at the University of Waterloo. She is the author of Westerns: A Women’s History (Nebraska, 2016) and coauthor of Judith Merril: A Critical Study.
 

Praise

“This excellent volume . . . dramatically reframes the literary history of the western, confirming Bower’s foundational but heretofore unacknowledged role in establishing the genre; the western, Lamont proves, was never the sole province of male authors, its most genuine plots crafted by a woman whose gender was too long obscured.”—Jennifer S. Tuttle, coeditor of Charlotte Perkins Gilman: New Texts, New Contexts

“Victoria Lamont’s compelling biography—packed with verve, deep archival research, and the everyday dramas of B. M. Bower’s writing life—changes the story not only on one fascinating woman and her work but on larger assumptions, legacies, and lineages of western women writers.”—Christine Bold, author of The Frontier Club

“Meticulously researched, eminently readable. . . . Lamont traces a remarkable tale of Bower’s persistent creativity and remarkably varied contributions to early twentieth-century mass culture.”—Mary Chapman, author of Making Noise, Making News: Suffrage Print Culture and U.S. Modernism

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Preface
Acknowledgments
1. An Unbearable Servitude
2. A Brief and Stormy Passage
3. A Lodge in the Wilderness
4. Nature at Her Uncanny Worst
5. Days of Little Things
6. Readjustments
7. “Don’t Be Pious”
Afterword
Notes
Bibliography
Index

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