About the Author

Austin McK Francis

Austin McK. Francis is the owner and publisher of The Beaverkill Press, a small literary press that specializes in sporting and outdoors books. He is the author of two books on squash racquets and six books on fly fishing, including the magnificently photographed and illustrated Land of Little Rivers.

Francis was born in Sumter, South Carolina, and grew up in several Southern states. As a youth, he spent every summer at camp, where he developed a love for the mountains and rivers. After high school in Petersburg, Virginia, he went north to Princeton University, where he graduated with an A.B. in English Literature.

After Princeton, he entered the U.S. Navy and served on board the USS Hancock (CVA-19), an aircraft carrier stationed in the Pacific with the Seventh Fleet, with visits to ports as diverse as Alameda, California, Subic Bay in the Philippines, Hong Kong, and Yokosuka, Japan. One of his Navy assignments involved the writing and production of two cruisebooks for the Hancock. While working on these books, he lived in Tokyo and worked at Dai Nippon Printing. It was there he learned all about the publishing business — an education that would serve him well years later when in 1983 he founded The Beaverkill Press.

After the Navy, Francis moved to New York City, where he worked with several publishing and advertising firms before starting in 1963 his own communications consulting business for professional services firms and nonprofit organizations. Also during this time, he met Ross Johnson, who had moved to New York from Winston-Salem, North Carolina. They were wed in 1965. These two city dwellers shared a passion for the great outdoors, and it was through Ross's uncle, Frank Willingham, that they were introduced to fly fishing in the same western North Carolina mountains where they had both spent summers. Then came the Catskills, a trouting paradise just northwest of New York City. The bond of fly fishing and the Catskills became Austin's passion. Over the next few years, he learned the skills, lore, and history of fly fishing from his mentor, Harry Darbee, a legendary Catskill flytier, fisherman, and storyteller, about whom Francis wrote his first fishing book.

Over the years, Francis has made it his life's avocation to learn about the history of fly fishing, the culture of the sport, the expert craftsmanship of the flies and the equipment, and the pastime's birthplace region. Now, thirty-five years later, Austin McK. Francis is considered to be the leading authority on the Catskill fly-fishing tradition.

The Francises continue to live and work in New York City, and on weekends they live and fish in the Catskills' Beaverkill valley.