Mary Ellen Barnes was born in Tucson, Arizona. She earned her B.A. from Chapman College, in Los Angeles, California, and completed graduate courses at the San Diego State University and Claremont College in California to earn her secondary teaching credential. She taught English, social studies, journalism, and art in California schools. In 1951, she married Clyde Barnes, MD, and they had three children. After he died in 1988, Barnes returned to Tucson, Arizona. She considers herself fortunate that her three children and two grandchildren also live in Tucson.
For eight years Barnes served as editor, contributor, and typesetter of the of St. Phillip’s Episcopal Church’s newsletter, The Loaves and Fishes. In 2003, the Aspen Fire burned more than 85,000 acres and 440 homes in the Catalina Mountains in Arizona. Barnes interviewed victims of the fire, firefighters, and those who marshaled forces to begin the renewal of the historical community on Mt. Lemmon, all but; destroyed by the fire. Those interviews resulted in the publication of Forged by Fire: The Devastation and Renewal of a Mountain Community and was named one of the ten top Southwest Books of 2005. In 2009 the University of Arizona Press published Barnes’ memoir, The Road to Mount Lemmon: A Father, A Family, and the Making of Summerhaven, which describes the adventures of the Zimmerman family and other Mount Lemmon figures who were pivotal to the history of that era.
In 2002 Barnes edited, typeset, and published The Dungan Family, a genealogy collection, which became the starting point for the Fireship Press historical novel Peregrine, a fictionalized biography France Latham, seventeen-century woman, who fought against the restrictions placed on women of her day.
Barnes next project, Teresa and the Cowboy: Un Cuento de Amor Tucsonense, is a novel that traces the tribulations of spinster Teresa Velarde and Jack O’Brien, roving gambler and cowhand. This powerful love story and compelling mystery is set in1891 Tucson, a town of mixed cultures and traditions.
Peregrine: The true story of one woman’s indomitable spirit and her love for the hawks she raises in the time of Charles I of England, Cromwell, and the New Colonies. Frances Latham, daughter of the royal falconer, is expected to tend her brothers and marry a farmer’s son, but she yearns for freedom to study in London, to hunt with the hawks she loves, and to marry at her will. Her spirit will carry her from a stifling country life to the bustling streets of London, through the harrowing hell of the plague, and eventually to the shores of the New World where Frances struggles to raise eleven children and pass on a better legacy than the one she endured. History buffs will become immersed in this panorama of the English court, country life, the grueling voyage to colonial America, the harsh life settlers endured on its shores, and encounters with Anne Hutchinson and Miantonomi, the Narragansett sachem.