From its earliest days Colorado Springs has been home to authors who drew from the natural beauty of its setting and the experiences of the people who lived here.
The best known of early authors was Helen Hunt Jackson (1830-1885). Jackson’s Century of Dishonor described the unjust and cruel treatment of American Indians by the US government. In over 300 printings of her most popular work, the novel Ramona, she drew attention to the struggle of American Indians in southern California.
“I shall be found with ‘Indians’ engraved on my brain when I am dead. A fire has been kindled within me, which will never go out.”
Frank Waters (1902-1985), a Colorado Springs native, has been described as “a Renaissance man of the American West.” Waters studied engineering at Colorado College and worked for a telephone company in Los Angeles until 1936. During this time he worked on his first novel, Fever Pitch, which was published in 1930 and a series of novels which eventually were compiled into Pikes Peak: A Mining Saga. Waters lived primarily in New Mexico and Arizona. In addition to his own works, he wrote for various publications throughout the US. His 28 works of fiction and non-fiction covered a multitude of locations, subjects and themes focussing on humans and their relationship with the natural world. Best known to readers are The Man Who Killed the Deer and People of the Valley.
“The whole westward expansion myth is seen as romantic. But it’s a joke, a blot on American history.”
Ann Zwinger (1925-2014) showed readers the vast and vivid natural world of the American West through her writing and her art. Her first book Beyond the Aspen Grove, details the natural life at “Constant Friendship”, 63 acres at 8300’ altitude she and her husband purchased in 1963. In 20 more books and numerous articles, Zwinger described in meticulously written and artistic detail the natural history of the American West. Her works covered varied ecosystems from the tiny plants of the alpine tundra to the glories of western rivers and canyons. One reviewer of Down Canyon said that Zwinger’s writings were “science in the hands of a poet.”
“There will always be something new to discover: a minute moss never fond before, a rabbit eating birdseed with the bores on a hungry November day, bittern that stays only long enough to be remembered.”
Generously Submitted by Jo Orsborn, CSPM Volunteer