A Twentieth-century American author, she is best known for such popular Western-themed short story collections as The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and A Man Called Horse. These two works, as well as her 1957 short fiction collection, The Hanging Tree, were adapted into films.
She published her first story, Belulah Bunny, in the Saturday Evening Post just before World War II. When the war began, she temporarily abandoned her writing to assist on the home front.
She asked that her tombstone be inscribed with the word, "PAID," explaining that "God knows what it means, and nobody else needs to know."
She was the daughter of Lester Eugene Johnson and Mary Louisa Barlow. She was born in Iowa, and she grew up in Montana.
James Stewart and John Wayne starred in the 1949 film, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, which is regarded as one of the finest Westerns ever made.