Tony Hillerman (May 27, 1925 - October 26, 2008)
Born: 27th May, 1925
Died: 26th October, 2008
Nationality: American
Profession/Occupation: Author
Region: Oklahoma, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Tony Hillerman Facts


Tony Hillerman, (Anthony Grove Hillerman), American novelist (born May 27, 1925, Sacred Heart, Okla.--died Oct. 26, 2008, Albuquerque, N.M.), produced taut mysteries that brought to light rich American Indian customs and culture and featured Navajo tribal officers as protagonists; Lieut. Joe Leaphorn (introduced in The Blessing Way [1970], Hillerman's debut novel) and Sgt. Jim Chee (who made his bow in People of Darkness [1980]) use the latest police crime-solving methods coupled with traditional Navajo beliefs (hozro, or harmony) in their detection. The lyrical novels, which were prized for their authenticity, explored the conflicts between traditional Native American values and those of modern society. The works were set in the sprawling U.S. Southwest (Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico) and focused on the motivation of the suspect. Hillerman, a natural storyteller, spent his youth in Depression-era Oklahoma, where he attended a grammar school for Indian girls and a high school with the Potawatomie. After service in World War II, he graduated (1946) with a B.A. in journalism from the University of Oklahoma. Armed with his intimate knowledge of and feeling of kinship with American Indians, he began writing fiction while serving (1965-85) as a professor (emeritus from 1985) at the University of New Mexico. He found commercial success in 1986 with Skinwalkers, the book that brought together the cynical Leaphorn (who understood but did not embrace Navajo practices) and the younger Chee (who was studying to become a Navajo hataali, or shaman). Hillerman produced 18 novels in the series, ending with The Shape Shifter (2006), and a number of nonfiction works, including New Mexico, Rio Grande, and Other Essays (1992). Among his numerous awards were two from the Mystery Writers of America: the Edgar Allan Poe Award (1974, for Dance Hall of the Dead [1973]) and the Grandmaster Award (1991).

Top 13 Tony Hillerman quotes

I am 82 years old. I imagine that I will keep on writing as long as anyone wants to keep reading.
I am
How can you stop writing?
I know what I write about seems exotic to a lot of people, but not for me. I pulled up to an old trading post and saw a few elderly Navajos sitting on a bench. I felt right at home.
I write
Being Indian is not blood as much as it is culture.
You write for two people, yourself and your audience, who are usually better educated and at least as smart.
Two people
An author knows his landscape best; he can stand around, smell the wind, get a feel for his place.
Although I wasn't able to get a visa for Vietnam, I was able to talk with swift boat veterans to get a feel for the time and place, and I visited a tropical prison in the Philippines to get a sense of what a Vietnamese prison might have been like.
I always have one or two, sometimes more, Navajo or other tribes' cultural elements in mind when I start a plot. In Thief of Time, I wanted to make readers aware of Navajo attitude toward the dead, respect for burial sites.
One or two
I always try to make the setting fit the story I have in mind.
I try to make my books reflect humanity as I see it.
I see
Women are extremely important shapers of my own life.
My own
Women are
The essays in The Great Taos Bank Robbery were my project to win a Master of Arts degree in English when I quit being a newspaper editor and went back to college.
Bank robbery
I quit
Having grown up in Oklahoma when it was one of the last states which prohibited liquor, I grew up with War On Drugs, where every teenager knew who the bootleggers were.

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