Martha Ostenso was born in Haukeland, Norway, in 1900. Brought by her family to United States at the age of two, she grew up in small towns in Minnesota and South Dakota. When she was fifteen, her family moved to Brandon, Manitoba. She later studied at the University of Manitoba.
In 1921 Ostenso enrolled in a course in the Technique of the novel at Columbia University and stayed on in New York for two years, working as a secretary for a charity organization. At the same time she confirmed her personal commitment to a writing career.
In 1924 Ostenso published a collection of poetry, In a Far Land, and the following year her first novel, Wild Geese, which won immediate acclaim as well as a prestigious award for its forceful and realistic depiction of human life on the windswept plains of frontier Manitoba.
For most of her life, Ostenso lived in Minnesota, and the American Midwest provided the settings for most of her later novels. She remained a popular novelist for more than two decades.
Martha Ostenso died in 1963.
Books in the NCL: