Born: Established: 24 Feb 1889 Glenelg ; Died: 22 Oct 1948 California
Roy Bennett Richards was born at Glenelg, South Australia, the son of an American-born pastoralist who owned and managed properties in the Port Augusta region. Richards received his education at St Peter's College in Adelaide and was interested in writing from an early age. A number of his articles, stories and poems appeared in the Port Augusta Dispatch and the weekly Gadfly magazine between 1904 and 1907.
Richards' parents separated in 1908 and his mother took him and his brother to live in the United States of America, eventually settling in Oceanside, California, in 1911. Richards continued his writing career in California, contributing to a number of Los Angeles newspapers and periodicals. But by 1914 he had become better known as Marshal South, a pseudonym that he would use for the rest of his life. Under this name he wrote poetry and short stories for a number of popular magazines, some of which subsequently appeared in book form.
While serving in the army during World War One, South met his first wife with whom he had a son. But they separated soon after South's discharge in 1920. He met his second wife in that same year, remarrying in 1923. The couple pursued writing careers, but they struggled financially and became disenchanted with modern civilization, eventually embarking on the adventure for which they are best-known.
In January 1930, seeking peace and solitude to pursue more creative and spiritual endeavours, the Souths travelled to the area now contained in California's Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. High on a ridge that they named Ghost Mountain, they began building a house that would be their home for the next seventeen years.
Three children were born on Ghost Mountain and the family was supported by South's writing which included a number of Westerns and adventure tales. He also began a long series of articles for Desert Magazine after gaining national attention with an article on life at Ghost Mountain published in the Saturday Evening Post. The series continued until 1946, establishing South's reputation among readers as a desert prophet.
But the South's time on Ghost Mountain came to a conclusion in 1946 when Tanya South filed for divorce in order to introduce her children to city life. South continued to write articles on the desert, but, suffering from a heart condition, he was forced from high elevations and died in October 1948.