Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Spring 2012


Great Plains Quarterly 32:2 (Spring 2012).


Copyright © 2012 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska.


The Great Plains, particularly in pioneer times, has been described as a place that was good for men and dogs but hell on women and horses, a notion that could be extended to the American West as a whole. In other words, the West was a man's country, initially explored by men, settled by men, written about by men. Nina Baym, however, well documents the inaccuracy of this last point in Women Writers of the American West.

Following an introductory chapter, nine chapters divide the West into nine geographic regions, each of these offering brief descriptions of the hundreds of books about the West written by western women. In the penultimate chapter, on travel books, Baym notes that most "women's western books were about the place, not getting to it." The final chapter comprises brief biographical notes on each of the 343 women whose 640 books are discussed in the preceding chapters.