Mabel Dodge Luhan, née Ganson, was born in Buffalo, New York, to a wealthy banking family. She attended Saint Margaret’s Episcopal School for girls until age 16, then went to a school in New York City and a finishing school in Washington, D.C. In 1900, at age 21, she married Karl Evans, the son of a steamship owner, in secret and against the wishes of her father. They had one son before he died two years later in a hunting accident. She went to Paris, where she married Edwin Dodge, a wealthy Boston architect in 1904.
From 1905 to 1912, they lived in a palatial villa near Florence, Italy, where she entertained local and visiting artists and writers such as Bernard Berenson, Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, and André Gide. In 1912, the couple returned to the USA, settling in New York City, where Mabel separated from her husband. Her Greenwich Village apartment became home to a famous salon frequented by intellectuals and writers, including Margaret Sanger, Emma Goldman, and John Reed. She became a noted patron of the arts, especially of the avant-garde, and was involved in mounting the Armory Show of 1913, the first exhibition of post-Impressionist art in the USA. She wrote articles for leading modernist literary and art magazines such as The Dial and was a nationally syndicated columnist for the Hearst organization. She married Maurice Sterne, a painter, as her third husband. In 1919, the couple moved to Taos, New Mexico and founded a literary colony there. She married her fourth and last husband, Antonio "Tony" Luhan, in 1923. Artists who stayed at her home included Georgia O’Keeffe, Ansel Adams, Martha Graham, Willa Cather and Aldous Huxley. D.H. Lawrence and his wife Frieda accepted an invitation to stay with Mabel; he produced some of his best writing there, but they had a difficult relationship. She published a memoir about his visit, Lorenzo in Taos (1932).
She detailed her passionate love life in the first volume of her autobiography, Intimate Memories (1933), followed by European Experiences (1935), Movers and Shakers (1936), and Edge of Taos Desert (1937). She also wrote Winter in Taos (1935) and Taos and Its Artists (1947).