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Mary MacLane (May 1 1881 — August 1929) was a controversial Canadian-born American writer whose frank memoirs helped usher in the confessional style of autobiographical writing.

MacLane was a very popular author for her time, scandalizing the populace with her shocking bestselling memoirs. She was considered wild and uncontrolled, a reputation she nurtured, and was openly bisexual as well as a vocal feminist. In her writings, she compared herself to another frank young memoirist, Marie Bashkirtseff, who died a few years after MacLane was born.

Early life and popularity

MacLane was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, but her family moved to Butte, Montana when she was four, and she spent the remainder of her life in the United States. MacLane began writing published material for her school paper in 1898. From the beginning, her writing was characterized by a direct, fiery and highly individualistic style.

At the age of 19 in 1902, MacLane published her first book, The Story of Mary MacLane. It sold 100,000 copies in the first month and was popular among young girls, but was strongly criticized by conservative readers, and lightly ridiculed by H.L. Mencken. She had always chafed at living in Butte, which was a small mining town, and used the money from sales of this book to move to Greenwich Village where she continued to write books and newspaper articles ([1]).

Some critics have suggested that even by today's standards, MacLane's writing is raw, honest, unflinching, self-aware, sensual and extreme. She wrote openly about egoism and her own self-love, about sexual attraction and love for other women, and even about her desire to marry the devil ([2]).

Later, she wrote and starred in an autobiographical silent film titled Men Who Have Made Love to Me. The film itself is now believed lost to time.

MacLane died in Chicago sometime in early August 1929, aged 48. She was soon forgotten and her body of prose remained out of print until 1993, when The Story of Mary MacLane was republished in an Anthology titled Tender Darkness.



  • The Story of Mary MacLane (1902)
  • My Friend, Annabel Lee (1903)
  • I, Mary MacLane: A Diary of Human Days (1917)
  • Tender Darkness (reprint anthology) (1993)
  • The Story of Mary MacLane and Other Writings (reprint anthology) (1999)

Selected articles

  • Consider Thy Youth and Therein (1899)
  • Mary MacLane at Newport (1902)
  • On Marriage (1902)
  • Mary MacLane Soliloquizes on Scarlet Fever (1910)
  • Mary MacLane Meets the Vampire on the Isle of Treacherous Delights (1910)
  • Mary MacLane Wants a Vote - For the Other Woman (1910)
  • Woman and the Cigarette (1911)
  • Mary MacLane on Marriage (1917)

Screenplays and Filmography

  • Men Who Have Made Love to Me (1917)

External links

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