Biography and History

[Maxwell] Struthers Burt (1882-1954), author, dude rancher, poet, was the patriarch of an American literary family. Burt married Katharine Newlin, whom he had met while studying at Oxford, in 1912. While living in Wyoming, both took up writing and both become very successful, penning short stories, novels, screenplays, poetry, and nonfiction. Much of their work was based on their experiences in the vast wilderness of the West. Their first child, Nathaniel Burt (Class of 1936), was born in 1913 and also became a well-known writer.

While living in Wyoming, Burt was a dude wrangler on the Bar BC Ranch, which he had co-founded in 1912; these experiences led to perhaps his most famous book The Diary of a Dude Wrangler, published by Scribner's-Burt's main house-in 1924.

Burt wrote short stories prolificly through the 1920s, authoring 37 different tales, most published in high-class fiction and poetry magazines like Scribner's, Collier's, or The Saturday Evening Post. As he grew older, Burt shifted his writing towards novels, critical pieces, and “subjective histories”, including Malice in Blunderland, Philadelphia, Holy Experiment, and Powder River; Let 'er Buck.

In the late 1920s Burt grew tired of an active dude ranch, and wanted a quieter place in which to write. In 1929 he bought two old ranches, merged them, and formed the Three Rivers Ranch, a Burt family retreat for the next half century.

Despite local opposition, Burt supported the establishment of a national park in the Jackson Hole/Teton Mountain area. Burt helped enlist the financial backing of John D. Rockefeller and his Snake River Land Co., which made the Grand Teton National Park a reality. Burt agreed to sell the Three Rivers Ranch to Rockefeller (who would later give the land to the government) at cost, in exchange for a 50-year lease on that property. The Three Rivers Ranch is now part of Grand Teton Park, having reverted to the Park Service in 1980.

Although raised a Philadelphian, Burt spent much of his time later in life at the Three Rivers Ranch or at his winter estate, Hibernia, in Southern Pines, North Carolina.

Source: From the finding aid for C0039


  • Dude ranchers -- Wyoming -- 20th century..
  • Novelists, American -- 20th century..
  • Struthers Burt Papers. 1911-1954 (bulk), 1845-1957 (inclusive).

    Call Number: C0039

    Struthers Burt was a noted poet, prose writer and rancher in the first half of the twentieth century. The collection includes various copies of some of Burt’s own works, correspondence with family and friends from his days at Princeton University, and assorted materials about his family and genealogy.