Mary Hallock grew up in New York, and received her education in Boston. She socialized with the elite of New England, but she fell in love with a civil engineer named Arthur Foote who had the grit of the West beneath his fingernails.
Mary Hallock Foote came West in the nation's Centennial year, 1876, but she did not come eagerly. Mrs. Foote once wrote, "No girl ever wanted less to go West with any man, or paid a man a greater compliment by doing so."
The Foote's lived in Idaho from 1883 to 1895, mostly in the Boise River Canyon near present-day Lucky Peak Dam. It was a frustrating, heartbreaking time for them, but Mary made use of her hard experience. She was an illustrator for books and magazines of the era. In fact, she was once called the dean of women illustrators. The illustration accompanying this post is of the front porch of their canyon home across from Discovery Park just outside of Boise. Encouraged by an editor to write as well, she became a popular author.
Mary Hallock Foote wrote many short stories, and a dozen novels. Much of her writing was based on her eight years in Idaho. Coeur d'Alene, Silver City, Boise, Thousand Springs, and Craters of the Moon were all settings for her stories.
In 1971 she was the subject of an enchanting—if controversial—story herself. Wallace Stegner's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Angle of Repose is based on the fascinating life of Mary Hallock Foote... a somewhat reluctant Idahoan.