Gertrude Atherton (October 30, 1857 – June 14, 1948) was a prominent and prolific American author. Many of her novels are set in her home state of California. Her bestseller Black Oxen (1923) was made into a silent movie of the same name. In addition to novels, she wrote short stories, essays, and articles for magazines and newspapers on such issues as feminism, politics, and war. She was strong-willed, independent-minded, and sometimes controversial. She is best remembered for her California Series, several novels and short stories dealing with the social history of California.
The series includes The Splendid, Idle Forties (1902); The Conqueror (1902), which is a fictionalized biography of Alexander Hamilton; and her sensational, semi-autobiographical novel Black Oxen (1923), about an aging woman who miraculously becomes young again after glandular therapy. The latter was adapted into the film Black Oxen in 1923. Her novels often feature strong heroines who pursue independent lives, undoubtedly a reaction to her stifling married life. Atherton wrote several stories of supernatural horror, including the ghost stories "Death and the Woman", and "Crowned with One Crest", as well as "The Foghorn", and the often anthologised "The Striding Place". "The Foghorn", written in 1933, is a psychological horror story that has been compared to "The Yellow Wallpaper". W. Somerset Maugham called it a powerful story in a 1943 publication of his, Great Modern Reading.