William MacLeod Raine was born in London, the son of William and Jessie Raine. After his mother died, his family migrated from England to Arkansas when MacLeod was ten years old, eventually settling on a cattle ranch near the Texas-Arkansas border. In 1894, after graduating from Oberlin College, MacLeod left Arkansas and headed for the western U.S. He became the principal of a school in Seattle while contributing columns to a local newspaper. Later he moved to Denver, where he worked as a reporter and editorial writer for local periodicals, including the Republican, the Post, and the Rocky Mountain News. At this time he began to publish short stories, eventually becoming a full-time free lance fiction writer, and finally finding his literary home in the novel.