Dorothy Marie Johnson (December 19, 1905 – November 11, 1984) was an American author best known for her Western fiction.

She sold her first magazine article to The Saturday Evening Post for the sum of $400. In 1935, her story "Beulah Bunny" was published and began a series of four stories. Her writing was temporarily sidetracked by World War II, when she went to work for the Air Warden Service. After the war, she produced some of her best-known Western stories. Three of these would later be made into notable films, namely A Man Called Horse (1950), The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1953) and The Hanging Tree (1957).

Between 1956-60, Johnson taught creative writing at the University of Montana, Missoula, Montana, from which she had graduated in 1928. Prior to and during her tenure she wrote numerous articles and fictional stories for many different magazines. These were often based on interviews with Western old-timers, Native Americans and characters she met during her tenure as secretary and researcher for The Montana Historical Society. She was also secretary/manager of the Montana Press Association in the 1950s.

Book List in Order:11 titles


  • Dorothy M. Johnson wrote dozens of highly acclaimed western stories and books in her long career. The stories in this book are her very best. They were ranked as four of the top five stories of the 20th century by the Western Writers of America, with...


  • Whirlwind belonged to the Oglala Sioux, the people of Crazy Horse. Born in 1820 near the Black Hills, she knew prosperity—her father could afford an expensive Buffalo Maiden ceremony—and eventually tragedy. The Indian woman feels profoundly the ...


  • This sequel to Dorothy M. Johnson’s prize-winning Buffalo Woman continues the story of Grandmother Whirlwind’s family of Hunkpapa and Oglala Sioux who flee to Canada with Sitting Bull after the Battle of the Little Bighorn. All the Buffalo Return...




  • The title story, The Hanging Tree, is based on a true episode in Montana s gold-mining past. Three amazing characters meet: the cynical Doc Frail; the boy robber named Rune, whom Doc saves and enslaves; and Elizabeth, the young easterner who survives...








    • / General Fiction
    • Buy Buy

    Indian Country contains two of Dorothy M. Johnson’s most famous stories. “A Man Called Horse” depicts the life of a white captive in a Crow Indian camp. “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” explains in flashback why a prominent senator appear...


    • / Historical
    • Buy Buy

    The title story, The Hanging Tree, is based on a true episode in Montana’s gold-mining past. Three amazing characters meet: the cynical Doc Frail; the boy robber named Rune, whom Doc saves and enslaves; and Elizabeth, the young easterner who surviv...