Mary MacLane was born in Winnipeg in 1881. Her family moved to Great Falls, Montana, in 1891 and by the mid-1890s to Butte, Montana. While she attracted little attention in her youth, she gained notoriety with the publication of her first book in 1902. She shared her inner thoughts and feelings in The Story of Mary MacLane, including unconventional ideas about religion, marriage and morality. Everyone from neighbors, literary critics, the press and intellectual elite, such as H.L. Mencken, reacted, for better or worse.