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Saxon was born on September 4, 1891, either in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, or in Bellingham, Washington, while his mother was traveling away from home; the early history of his life is "as evasive as the histories that frustrated Saxon in writing Old Louisiana". It is possible that his parents, from distinguished families with connections to Baton Rouge and New Orleans, were unmarried; Saxon said little about his background and early years, and never met his father. He was raised, however, in Baton Rouge, and made frequent trips to New Orleans throughout his early life, where his paternal uncle and grandmother lived.
Saxon moved to New Orleans not long after college in 1914 or 1915 and, after moving again several times, settled there permanently in 1918. Saxon lived in the French Quarter at 612 Royal St. starting in 1918; Sherwood Anderson, William Faulkner, Roark Bradford, and Edmund Wilson visited.
He was an ardent student of the history of New Orleans and wrote six books on the subject. His most popular titles include "Fabulous New Orleans" recounting the city's celebrated past as set against his memories of his first Mardi Gras during the turn of the 20th century: "Gumbo Ya-Ya", an amazing and absolutely marvelous compilation of native folk stories from Louisiana, including the Loup Garou and the Lalaurie House: and "Old Louisiana", a local bestseller from its introduction in 1929.
Saxon's fiction included short stories: "Cane River" was published in The Dial magazine edited by Marianne Moore, and "The Centaur Plays Croquet" was included in the American Caravan anthology in 1927. His 1937 novel Children of Strangers sold well.
He is buried at Magnolia Cemetery (Baton Rouge, Louisiana).
Contemporary historians of the city rely heavily on Saxon's works for reference. In 1986, M.A. Houston wrote a Master of Arts-degree thesis, "The Shadow of Africa on the Cane: An Examination of Africanisms in the Fiction of Lyle Saxon and Ada Jack Carver." Ada Jack Carver Snell of Minden was another Louisiana author who wrote about the Cane River country of her native Natchitoches Parish.
- John James Audubon, F. A. De Caro, Rosan A. Jordan, eds. (1998). "A Journey Through Mardi Gras". Louisiana sojourns: travelers' tales and literary journeys. LSU Press. ISBN 978-0-8071-2240-2.
- Father Mississippi. Pelican Publishing Company. 1927. ISBN 978-1-56554-795-7. reprint 2006
- Fabulous New Orleans. Pelican Publishing Company. 1928. ISBN 978-0-88289-706-6. reprint 1988
- Old Louisiana. Pelican Publishing Company. 1929. ISBN 978-0-88289-705-9. reprint 1989
- Lafitte the Pirate. Pelican Publishing Company. 1930. ISBN 978-0-88289-395-2. reprint 1989
- Children of Strangers (novel). Pelican Publishing Company. 1937. ISBN 978-0-88289-397-6. reprint 1989
- Lyle Saxon, Edward Dreyer, Robert Tallant, eds. (1945). Gumbo Ya-Ya. Pelican Publishing Company. ISBN 0-88289-645-8. reprint 1987
- James W. Thomas (1991). Lyle Saxon: A Critical Biography. Summa Publications, Inc.. ISBN 978-0-917786-83-9, pg 1
- James W. Thomas (1991). Lyle Saxon: A Critical Biography. Summa Publications, Inc.. ISBN 978-0-917786-83-9, pg 10
- James W. Thomas (1991). Lyle Saxon: A Critical Biography. Summa Publications, Inc.. ISBN 978-0-917786-83-9, pg 15-18
- James W. Thomas (1991). Lyle Saxon: A Critical Biography. Summa Publications, Inc.. ISBN 978-0-917786-83-9, pg 30
- Robert Bain, Joseph M. Flora, Louis Decimus Rubin, eds. (1979). Southern writers: a biographical dictionary. LSU Press. ISBN 978-0-8071-0390-6.
- Works by or about Lyle Saxon at Internet Archive
- Powell, Lawrence N. "Lyle Saxon and the WPA Guide to New Orleans." Southern Spaces 29 July 2009.
- James W. Thomas (1991). Lyle Saxon: a critical biography. Summa Publications, Inc. ISBN 978-0-917786-83-9.
- Chance Harvey (2003). The life and selected letters of Lyle Saxon. Pelican Publishing Company. ISBN 978-1-58980-109-7.
- Lyle Saxon at Find a Grave