The Story of Mary MacLane
Classic Montana Book Reprinted for Its 100th Anniversary
A classic Montana book has been brought back into print by two Montana publishers. The Story of Mary MacLane , a powerful book that turned a young woman from Butte into a worldwide celebrity, has just been released by the Montana Historical Society Press and Riverbend Publishing, both of Helena.
"Reading The Story of Mary MacLane will change people's perceptions of what Montana literature is,” said Martha Kohl, former editor of MHS Press. “For this reason—and based on its own merits—we felt this classic, radically modernist work deserved to be put back in print."
Story shocked the literary world when it was first published in 1902. Within one month it had sold 100,000 copies, an astonishing number then and now. Within a few years it had been translated into 36 languages, and writers such as Ernest Hemingway, Hart Crane, and Gertrude Stein lauded it as an important influence in their quests for a new American style.
The author was a nineteen-year-old girl from the raw, masculine mining town of Butte. With the publication of Story, MacLane became an overnight sensation. She was called the “Wild Woman of Butte,” a Bohemian, a radical, a feminist, a rebel. Although MacLane went on to write other books, none had the impact of Story , which was—and is—fresh, frank, and funny. Readers are swept along in a breath-taking tour de force about life, love, and longing that is as powerful today as it was provocative when first published.
“It’s a wild ride,” Riverbend publisher Chris Cauble said. “When I first read it I couldn’t put it down. I knew it needed to be back in print for a new audience.”
Story went out of print in the 1920s. It was only available again in a collection of MacLane’s work in 1991. This edition is reprinted from the original 1902 printing. It is the fifth title in MHS Press and Riverbend Publishing’s Western History Classics series.
This edition features a fascinating description of MacLane’s life and work by Dr. Julia Watson, the first director of the Women’s Studies program at the University of Montana and currently an associate professor in the Department of Comparative Studies at the Ohio State University. Watson writes that Story is a “narrative of the coming of age of a young woman” and her writing “is a performance.” Watson’s authoritative essay includes a biography of MacLane’s flamboyant life, including her many loves and passions, a literary analysis of MacLane’s influence on modern literature, and a description of MacLane’s dramatic relationship with Butte.
Jackie Corr, Butte's well-known literary and historical critic who has researched MacLane, said, “Mary MacLane made our community and our lives a little richer. She gave rather than grabbed. And if she made a lot of money and lost most or all of it—and she did—and if she had problems with alcohol and gambling—and she did—well, she was first and last a Butte girl and she was noted for her generosity to Butte people, both here and in Chicago and New York. She was and is one of us and that decides the issue.”
The Story of Mary MacLane sells for $12.95 and is available from bookstores or the Montana Historical Society Museum Store by calling 1-800-243-9900.Order