Born Geneva Grace Stratton in Wabash County, Indiana, she married Charles D. Porter in 1886, and they had one daughter, Jeannette.
She became a wildlife photographer, specializing in the birds and moths in one of the last of the vanishing wetlands of the lower Great Lakes Basin. The Limberlost and Wildflower Woods of northeastern Indiana were the laboratory and inspiration for her stories, novels, essays, photography, and movies. Although there is evidence that her first book was "Strike at Shane's", which was published anonymously, her first attributed novel, The Song of the Cardinal met with great commercial success. Her novels Freckles and A Girl of the Limberlost are set in the wooded wetlands and swamps of the disappearing central Indiana ecosystems she loved and documented. She eventually wrote over 20 books.
Although Stratton-Porter wanted to focus on nature books, it was her romantic novels that made her famous and generated the finances that allowed her to pursue her nature studies. She was an accomplished author, artist and photographer and is generally considered to be one of the first female authors to promulgate public positions — in her case, conserving the Limberlost Swamp. Catherine Woolley, author of the "Ginnie and Geneva" series of children's books, may have named her character of Geneva Porter after Geneva Stratton-Porter.
One of her last novels, Her Father's Daughter, was set outside of Los Angeles, California, where she had moved in the 1920s for health reasons and to expand her business ventures into the movie industry. This novel presented a unique window into Stratton-Porter's personal feelings around WWI-era racism and nativism, especially relating to immigrants of Asian descent. She died in Los Angeles in 1924, along with her driver, when her limousine was struck by a streetcar.
A building at Purdue University Calumet in Hammond, Indiana, is named in her honor. A rest stop along the Indiana Toll Road (U.S. Interstate 90) also shares her name. Her Wildflower Woods home on Lake Sylvan, Rome City, Indiana, and her Limberlost home in Geneva, Indiana, are now museums operated by the Indiana State Museum.
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