World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Tony Hillerman

Article Id: WHEBN0000294525
Reproduction Date:

Title: Tony Hillerman  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Anthony Awards, Edgar Award, Reader's Digest Select Editions, Listening Woman, Skinwalkers (novel)
Collection: 1925 Births, 2008 Deaths, 20Th-Century American Novelists, 21St-Century American Novelists, Agatha Award Winners, American Male Novelists, American Military Personnel of World War II, American Mystery Writers, American People of German Descent, Anthony Award Winners, Deaths from Respiratory Failure, Disease-Related Deaths in New Mexico, Edgar Award Winners, MacAvity Award Winners, Nero Award Winners, People from Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma, Recipients of the Bronze Star Medal, Recipients of the Purple Heart Medal, Recipients of the Silver Star, United States Army Soldiers, University of New Mexico Faculty, Writers from New Mexico, Writers from Oklahoma
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Tony Hillerman

Tony Hillerman
Born Anthony Grove Hillerman
(1925-05-27)May 27, 1925
Sacred Heart, Oklahoma, U.S.
Died October 26, 2008(2008-10-26) (aged 83)
Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S.
Occupation Novelist, Journalist, Educator
Nationality American
Spouse Marie Unzner
Children Six

Tony Hillerman (May 27, 1925 – October 26, 2008)[1] was an award-winning American author of detective novels and non-fiction works best known for his Navajo Tribal Police mystery novels. Several of his works have been adapted as big-screen and television movies.


  • Biography 1
  • Recognition beyond the US 2
  • Legacy and honors 3
  • Awards 4
  • Bibliography 5
    • Leaphorn and Chee books 5.1
    • Continuation of Leaphorn & Chee Series 5.2
    • Three-in-one volumes 5.3
    • Other novels 5.4
    • Other books by Hillerman (memoirs, non-fiction, anthologies) 5.5
    • About Hillerman, non-fiction, by others 5.6
    • Books of photos 5.7
  • Filmography 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


Anthony Grove Hillerman was born in Sacred Heart, Oklahoma to August Alfred Hillerman, a farmer and shopkeeper, and his wife, Lucy Grove. He was the youngest of their three children, and the second son. His paternal grandparents were born in Germany, and his maternal grandparents were born in England. He grew up in Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma, attending elementary and high school with Potawatomie children.

He was a decorated combat veteran of World War II, serving from August 1943 to October 1945. He served as a mortar-man in the 103rd Infantry Division. He earned the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, and a Purple Heart. He attended the University of Oklahoma after the war, meeting Marie Unzner, a student in microbiology. The couple wed and have one biological child and five adopted children.[1]

From 1948–62, he worked as a journalist, then moved his family to Albuquerque, where he earned a master's degree from the University of New Mexico in 1966. It was during his time as a writer for the sheriff of Hutchinson County, the man upon whom he would pattern the main character in his Joe Leaphorn novels. He taught journalism from 1966 to 1987 at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, and also began writing novels. He lived there with his wife Marie until his death in 2008. At the time of his death, they had been married 60 years and had ten grandchildren.[1][2]

A consistently bestselling author, he was ranked as New Mexico's 22nd wealthiest man in 1996. He wrote 18 books in his Navajo series. He wrote more than 30 books total, among them a memoir and books about the Southwest, its beauty and its history. His literary honors were awarded for his Navajo books. Hillerman's books have been translated into eight languages, among them Danish and Japanese.[2]

Hillerman's writing is noted for the cultural details he provides about his subjects: Hopi, Zuni, European-American, federal agents, and especially Navajo Tribal Police. His works in nonfiction and in fiction reflect his appreciation of the natural wonders of the American Southwest and his appreciation of its people, particularly the Navajo. His mystery novels are set in the Four Corners area of New Mexico and Arizona, sometimes reaching into Colorado and Utah, with occasional forays to the big cities of Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and New York City. The protagonists are Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee of the Navajo tribal police. Lt. Leaphorn was introduced in Hillerman's first novel, The Blessing Way (1970). Sgt. Jim Chee was introduced in the fourth novel, People of Darkness. The two first work together in the seventh novel, Skinwalkers.[3]

Hillerman repeatedly acknowledged his debt to an earlier series of mystery novels written by the British-born Australian author Arthur W. Upfield and set among tribal aborigines in remote desert regions of tropical and subtropical Australia. The Upfield novels began to be published in 1928 and featured a half-European, half-aboriginal Australian hero, Detective-inspector Napoleon (Bony) Bonaparte. Bony worked with deep understanding of tribal traditions. The character was based on the achievements of an aborigine known as Tracker Leon, whom Upfield had met during his years in the Australian bush.

He discussed his debt to Upfield in many interviews and in his introduction to the posthumous 1984 reprint of Upfield's A Royal Abduction. In the introduction, he described the appeal of the descriptions in Upfield's crime novels. It was descriptions both of the harsh outback areas and of "the people who somehow survived upon them" that lured him. "When my own Jim Chee of the Navajo Tribal Police unravels a mystery because he understands the ways of his people, when he reads the signs in the sandy bottom of a reservation arroyo, he is walking in the tracks Bony made 50 years ago."

Tony Hillerman died on October 26, 2008, of pulmonary failure in Albuquerque at the age of 83.[1]

Recognition beyond the US

In an interview published in Le Monde, Hillerman said his Navajo name means "He who is afraid of his horse." His novels were popular in France. Hillerman credits that popularity both to French curiosity about other cultures and to his translator, Pierre Bondil.[4][5]

Legacy and honors

The Tony Hillerman Library in Albuquerque, named in his honor.

Hillerman is considered one of New Mexico's foremost novelists.[6] In Albuquerque, the Tony Hillerman Library was dedicated in 2008,[7] and the Tony Hillerman Middle School (part of Volcano Vista High School) opened in 2009.[8] Dance Hall of the Dead, published in 1973 earned Hillerman the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière in 1987, a French international literary honor. He was awarded the Owen Wister Award in 2008 for “Outstanding Contributions to the American West.”[9]


Hillerman was a decorated combat veteran of World War II; he earned the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, and a Purple Heart as a mortarman in the 103rd Infantry Division.

He won and was nominated for numerous awards for his writing and his work with other writers. His first nomination came in 1972, with his novel The Fly on the Wall being nominated for an Edgar Award in the "Best Mystery Novel" category. Two years later his novel Dance Hall of the Dead, second book in the Leaphorn-Chee series, won the 1974 Edgar Award for Best Novel.[10] He was again nominated for the "Best Mystery Novel" Edgar Award in 1979 for Listening Woman and lastly in 1989 for A Thief of Time.[10] Hillerman's non-fictional work Talking Mysteries was nominated in 1992 for the Edgar Award in the "Best Critical or Biographical" category.[11]

In 1987, Hillerman received the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière for Dance Hall of the Dead. In 1991, Hillerman received the MWA's Grand Master Award. Hillerman received the Nero Award for Coyote Waits[12] and the Navajo Tribe's Special Friends of the Dineh Award.[13]

Hillerman has also been successful at the annual Anthony Awards. His novel Skinwalkers won the 1988 Anthony Award for "Best Novel" and in the following year A Thief of Time was nominated for the 1989 Anthony Award in the same category.[14] His next nomination was for his Talking Mysteries non-fictional work which was nominated at the 1992 Anthony Awards.[14] His novel Sacred Clowns received a "Best Novel" nomination at the 1994 Anthony Awards; and the following year his short-story collection The Mysterious West won the 1995 Anthony Award in the "Best Anthology/Short Story Collection" category.[14] His last win came at the 2002 Anthony Awards at which he won the "Best Non-fiction/Critical Work" award for his memoir Seldom Disappointed.[14]

Two of the Navajo Police novels won The Spur award, given by the Western Writers of America annually. Skinwalkers won the award in 1987 for Western Novel, and The Shape Shifter won in 2007 for Best Western Short Novel.[15]

Seldom Disappointed: A Memoir won the Agatha Award in 2001.[16]

Hillerman's novels were recognized at the Macavity Awards. A Thief of Time won the "Best Novel" award in 1989 and Talking Mysteries won the "Best Critical/Biographical" award in 1992.[17] Seldom Disappointed also received a nomination in the "Best Biographical/Critical Mystery Work" category in 2002.[17]

He received the Parris Award in 1995 by Southwest Writer's Workshop for his outstanding service to other writers.[18] In 2002, Hillerman received the Agatha Malice Domestic Award for Lifetime Achievement, given by Malice Domestic for mystery novels in the spirit of Agatha Christie.[13][19]


Leaphorn and Chee books

Continuation of Leaphorn & Chee Series

In 2013, Hillerman's daughter, Anne, published the first new novel since 2006 featuring Hillerman's Navajo Police characters, Spider Woman's Daughter (ISBN 0062270486); the novel's protagonist is Jim Chee's wife, Officer Bernadette Manuelito. Her second book Rock With Wings (ISBN 0062270516) was released in 2015.

Three-in-one volumes

  • The Joe Leaphorn Mysteries: Three Classic Hillerman Mysteries Featuring Lt. Joe Leaphorn: The Blessing Way, Dance Hall of the Dead, Listening Woman (1989); ISBN 0-06-016174-4
  • The Jim Chee Mysteries: Three Classic Hillerman Mysteries Featuring Officer Jim Chee: People of Darkness, The Dark Wind, The Ghostway (1990); ISBN 0-06-016478-6
    The first appearance of Jim Chee in the Leaphorn-Chee series is in People of Darkness. In these three books, Joe Leaphorn is only briefly mentioned once, as "Captain Leaphorn at the Chinle substation" (POD, ch. 6). In the later books, where he is again prominent along with Jim Chee, he is "Lieutenant Leaphorn."
  • Tony Hillerman: Three Jim Chee Mysteries: People of Darkness, The Dark Wind, The Ghostway (1993); ISBN 0-517-09281-6
  • Leaphorn & Chee: Three Classic Mysteries Featuring Lt. Joe Leaphorn and Officer Jim Chee : Skinwalkers, A Thief of Time, Talking God (1992); ISBN 0-06-016909-5
  • Leaphorn & Chee: Three Classic Mysteries Featuring Lt. Joe Leaphorn and Officer Jim Chee: Skinwalkers, A Thief of Time, Talking God (2001); ISBN 0-06-018789-1
  • Tony Hillerman: The Leaphorn & Chee Novels: Skinwalkers, A Thief of Time, Coyote Waits (2005); ISBN 0-06-075338-2
  • Tony Hillerman: Leaphorn, Chee, and More: The Fallen Man, The First Eagle, Hunting Badger (2005); ISBN 0-06-082078-0

Other novels

  • The Fly on the Wall (1971) ISBN 0-06-011897-0
  • Finding Moon (1995) ISBN 0-06-017772-1
  • The Boy Who Made Dragonfly (for children) (1972) ISBN 0-06-022312-X
  • Buster Mesquite's Cowboy Band (for children) (1973) ISBN 0-914001-11-6

Other books by Hillerman (memoirs, non-fiction, anthologies)

  • Seldom Disappointed: A Memoir by Tony Hillerman (2001); ISBN 0-06-019445-6
  • The Great Taos Bank Robbery (1973); ISBN 0-8263-0306-4
  • The Spell of New Mexico (1976); ISBN 0-8263-0420-6
  • Indian Country (1987); ISBN 0-87358-432-5
  • Talking Mysteries (with Ernie Bulow) (1991); ISBN 0-8263-1279-9
  • The Tony Hillerman Companion: A Comprehensive Guide to His Life and Work by Hillerman, Martin Greenberg (1994); ISBN 0-06-017034-4
  • The Oxford book of American Detective Stories (1996); ISBN 0-19-508581-7
  • Canyon De Chelly (1998); ISBN 1-893205-25-8
  • Best American Mysteries of the Century (2000) ISBN 0-618-06757-4
  • Best of the West: An Anthology of Classic Writing from the American West (1991); ISBN 0-06-016664-9
  • New Omnibus of Crime (2005); ISBN 0-19-518214-6
  • The Mysterious West (1995); ISBN 0-06-017785-3

About Hillerman, non-fiction, by others

  • Tony Hillerman's Navajoland: Hideouts, Haunts and Havens in the Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee Mysteries by Laurance D. Linford, Tony Hillerman (2001); ISBN 0-87480-698-4
    Expanded Third Edition (2011); ISBN 978-1-60781-137-4.
  • Tony Hillerman's Indian Country Map & Guide, first edition by Time Traveler Maps by Tony Hillerman (1998); ISBN 1-892040-01-8
  • Tony Hillerman's Indian Country Map & Guide, second edition by Time Traveler Maps by Tony Hillerman (2003); ISBN 1-892040-10-7
  • The Ethnic Detective: Chester Himes, Harry Kemelman, Tony Hillerman by Peter Freese – including a detailed analysis of Listening Woman; ISBN 978-3-892-06502-9
  • Tony Hillerman: A Critical Companion (Critical Companions to Popular Contemporary Writers) by John M. Reilly (1996); ISBN 978-0-313-29416-7

Books of photos

  • Kilroy Was There (2004) ISBN 0-87338-807-0
  • Hillerman Country (1991) ISBN 0-06-016400-X
  • Indian Country: America's Sacred Land Bela Kalman (text by Hillerman) (1987) ISBN 0-87358-432-5
  • Rio Grande Robert Reynolds (text by Hillerman) (1975) ISBN 0-912856-18-1
  • New Mexico Photography by David Muench (text by Hillerman) (1975) ISBN 0-912856-14-9



  1. ^ a b c d Stasio, Marilyn (October 27, 2008). "Tony Hillerman, Novelist, Dies at 83". The New York Times. Retrieved October 29, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b Holley, Joe. "Tony Hillerman, 83; Penned Navajo Series". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 25, 2010. 
  3. ^ "Skinwalkers" (January 1, 1986 ed.). Kirkus Reviews. April 4, 2012. Retrieved November 22, 2014. Here, however, Hillerman brings together his two series characters--middle-aged, cynical Lieut. Joe Leaphorn and young, mystical Officer Jim Chee--without in any way diminishing the stark power and somber integrity that have distinguished previous exploits of the Navajo Tribal Police. 
  4. ^ Ulysse (May 1, 2006). "Les Navajos m’appellent Celui qui a peur de son cheval" ["The Navajo call me one who is afraid of his horse"]. Le Monde. Retrieved April 1, 2015. 
  5. ^ Ulysse (May 1, 2006). "Les Navajos m’appellent Celui qui a peur de son cheval" (in French). Le Monde. Retrieved April 1, 2015. 
  6. ^ Roberts, Susan A.; Roberts, Calvin A. (1998). A History of New Mexico. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press. p. 383.  
  7. ^ "Tony Hillerman Library".  
  8. ^ Piper, Ann (2014). Education in Albuquerque. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing. p. 112.  
  9. ^ "The Owen Wister Award". Western Writers of America. Retrieved April 28, 2015. 
  10. ^ a b "Best Mystery Novel Edgar Award Winners and Nominees - Complete Lists". Retrieved March 7, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Best Critical or Biographical Edgar Award Winners and Nominees - Complete Lists". Retrieved March 7, 2012. 
  12. ^ "The Nero Award List Alphabetic (Author's Last Name)". The Wolfe Pack. October 20, 2013. Retrieved July 24, 2014. 
  13. ^ a b Haynes, Elizabeth (2011). Crime Writers: A Research Guide. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, LLC. p. 75.  
  14. ^ a b c d "Bouchercon World Mystery Convention: Anthony Awards Nominees". October 2, 2003. Retrieved March 7, 2012. 
  15. ^ "Winners of the Spur award, 1954 - 2015". Western Writers of America. Retrieved April 28, 2015. 
  16. ^ "Past Agatha Award Winners & Nominees". Gaithersburg, Maryland: Malice Domestic, Ltd. Retrieved July 24, 2014. 
  17. ^ a b "Mystery Readers International's Macavity Awards". Retrieved March 7, 2012. 
  18. ^ "Parris Award 1987 to 2010". Parris Afton Bonds. 2014. Retrieved July 24, 2014. 
  19. ^ "A Brief History of Malice: All Past Honorees". Gaithersburg, Maryland: Malice Domestic, Ltd. 2014. Retrieved July 24, 2014. 
  20. ^ The Dark Wind at the Internet Movie Database
  21. ^ a b c "American Mystery! Specials". WGBH. 2003. Retrieved 16 April 2014. 
  22. ^ Skinwalkers (2002) at the Internet Movie Database
  23. ^ Coyote Waits at the Internet Movie Database
  24. ^ A Thief of Time at the Internet Movie Database

External links

  • The Tony Hillerman Portal, An interactive guide to the author's life and work. A project of the Center for Southwest Research at the University of New Mexico Libraries
  • Inventory of the Tony Hillerman Papers, 1964–1996, Center for Southwest Research at the University of New Mexico Libraries
  • Unofficial homepage
  • Obituary in Chicago Sun-Times
  • Tony Hillerman E-Reader (PerfectBound v 1 ed.). HarperCollins PerfectBound. October 2002. p. 221. Retrieved August 2013.  (PDF download from Adobe Digital Editions Home: Sample eBook Library that includes excerpts from the books Skinwalkers, A Thief of Time, Finding Moon, and The Wailing Wind and from "The Novels, As Annotated by T.H." (2001); this download expires in 30 minutes.)
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.