James Lane Allen (December 21, 1849 – February 18, 1925) is the author of many novels and short stories, including A Kentucky Cardinal. Many of his novels and short stories capture the spirit, and dialects, of his native Kentucky in the United States. He was a part of the local color era, when writers sought to incorporate the popular vernacular in their works.
Allen was born near Lexington, Kentucky, and his formative years were spent there in the eras that impress upon his work—Ante-bellum, American Civil War, and Reconstruction. He graduated from Transylvania University in 1872, delivering the Salutatorian address in Latin. Allen sought to accurately transcribe the accents of the characters. In 1893 Allen moved to New York City, where he lived until his death, making his living as an author. He was a contributor to Harpers, The Atlantic, and other popular magazines of the time. Allen is buried in Lexington Cemetery (Kentucky).
He has been described as "Kentucky's first important novelist."