Tony Hillerman Additional Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Tony Hillerman, who could be called the creator of the anthropological mystery, is widely regarded as one of the best mystery writers in the world. His unique mysteries, most of which were set on the Navajo Reservation in the Southwest, contain masterful interactions of setting, plot, and characterization.

On May 27, 1925, Anthony Grove Hillerman was born in Sacred Heart, Oklahoma, the son of Lucy Grove and August A. Hillerman, a storekeeper and farmer. Hillerman received his early education at St. Mary’s Academy, a Catholic boarding school for Indian girls that accepted several non-Indian children from nearby farms. Thus, although not Indian himself, he numbered Potowatomis and Seminoles among his earliest friends. He graduated from Konawa High School in 1942 and enrolled at Oklahoma A&M College in the fall. After one semester, Hillerman returned to the farm. He joined the U.S. Army in 1943, receiving the Silver Star, Bronze Star, and Purple Heart. In 1945 Hillerman observed his first Navajo curing ceremony, the Enemy Way, which had a profound influence on him. Desiring to know more about the Navajos, he began to study their culture seriously.

Hillerman returned to college and graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in journalism in 1948. Between 1948 and 1962 he worked as a police reporter, political writer, and editor for newspapers and the United Press in Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. In August, 1948, Hillerman married Marie Unzer; they had six children and remained married for sixty years until Hillerman’s death in 2008. Hillerman began his long association with the University of New Mexico by enrolling as a graduate student in 1963. He worked for the president of the university and joined the journalism faculty in 1966, ultimately becoming chairman of the department. He started to write fiction in the late 1960’s, and his first book, The Blessing Way, was published in 1970.

In The Blessing Way Hillerman introduced his readers...

(The entire section is 824 words.)