In 1903 when "The Land of Little Rain" was first published it became an instant success. It has continued to attract and enchant readers ever since that time. It was one of the first books to be written in a popular style about the animals, plants and people of a Southwest desert area. Mary Austin wrote it from her own observations and experiences in the field. She lived the book. It is also one of the first to express the need for the conservation of our natural resources. Carl Van Doren once wrote that Austin should have the degree M.A.E.--Master of American Environment. The book, a work of authenticity and originality still has meaning for twenty-first century readers. Mary Austin (nee Hunter) was born in Carlinville, Illinois in 1868 and died in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1934. After graduation from Blackburn College, she moved with her family to California. She later spent time in New York and eventually settled in Santa Fe. A prolific writer, she wrote novels, short stories, essays, plays and poetry. Austin became an early advocate for environmental issues as well as the rights of women and other minority groups. She was particularly interested in the preservation of American Indian culture.