CHARLES F. LUMMIS
Author & Adventurer
“In the first chapter of this little book about Charles Fletcher Lummis, historian Marc Simmons includes a reprint of the long unavailable story of the friendship between Lummis and Amado Chaves (first published as Two Southwesterners, Charles Lummis and Amado Chaves, San Marcos Press, 1968). After suffering a paralytic stroke brought on by overwork, Lummis went to New Mexico to recuperate. He lived for a time with the Chaves family in their hacienda near the village of San Mateo, New Mexico, and cultivated a friendship with Amado Chaves. Over the years, Lummis and Chaves kept up a correspondence. Simmons used these letters as his primary source for Two Southwesterners. Simmons’ description of his own association with Chaves’ daughter and the discovery of the Lummis-Chaves papers provides readers with a glimpse of the ways in which a skillful historian comes across his primary sources.
“In addition to the story of the Lummis-Chaves friendship, the present book contains an essay on Lummis as a photographer. The article, entitled ‘Cameras & Controversy,’ appeared in New Mexico Magazine (vol. 79, October 2001). An avid photographer, Lummis documented his travels across the Southwest, the Andes, Mexico, and Central America. He shot five-by-eight glass dry-plate negatives on his travels, and then later used the cyanotype process, a printing method based on the light sensitivity of iron salts, to create photos for retail sale. Simmons’ Charles F. Lummis concludes with an original Lummis letter, a tribute to Lummis’ son who died at the age of six, and the notice of Lummis’ death in 1928.
“Between 1890 and 1900, Lummis (1859-1928) published seven books about the Southwest: an autobiographical account, A Tramp across the Continent (1892); two tour books, Some Strange Corners of Our Country (1892) and The Land of Poco Tiempo (1893); and four books of folklore: A New Mexico David and Other Stories and Sketches of the Southwest (1891), The Man Who Married the Moon and Other Pueblo Indian Folk-Stories (1894), The Enchanted Burro (1897), and The King of the Broncos and Other Stories of New Mexico (1897). In addition to promoting the Southwest in general, he was a crusader for the Spanish heritage of California. He was editor of the Daily Times, chief librarian of the Los Angeles Public Library, editor of Land of Sunshine (later retitled Out West), and founder of the Southwest Museum. A flamboyant figure with an incredible amount of energy, Lummis continues to fascinate readers with an interest in the Southwest.
“Written in a smooth-flowing style, Simmons’ Charles F. Lummis: Author and Adventurer will appeal to students of southwestern culture.”
—Walter Drew Hill, Desert Tracks, January 2009