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Western Writers

Three Icons of the Western Genre
Top Ten Western Books
The Western Heritage in Literature
Academic Nonsense About the American West 

Owen Wister
The Virginian: A Horseman of the Plains by Owen Wister was one of the first mass-market bestsellers. The 1902 novel received immediate critical acclaim and was hugely popular, eventually spawning five films, a successful play, and a television series. An instant success, it sold over 20 thousand copies in the first month, an astonishing number for the time. It went on to sell over 200,000 thousand copies in the first year, and over a million and a half prior to Wister's death. This Western classic has never been out of print. (You can read my book review, "The Virginian, A Classic Western Revisited" at Ezine Articles.)

One of the First Mass-Market Bestsellers
Owen Wister's Virginian Would Not Approve
The Virginian—The Inspiration for The Steve Dancy Tales

Max Brand
Frederick Faust (Max Brand) was one of the most prolific writers of all time, publishing nearly thirty million words in his lifetime. Faust had more pennames than Destry had bullets. (In the film, Destry Rides Again, based on the Faust character, James Stewart famously shoots his Colt seven times.) He wrote more than 500 novels and short stories—all with two fingers on a manual typewriter. In his day, Faust was one of the highest paid writers in the world.

Frederick Faust, aka Max Brand

Zane Grey
Zane Grey was an athlete, avid fisherman, and a lifelong philander. Grey was introverted and remained somewhat antisocial his entire life. Oh yeah, he was also a writer. In fact, he wrote his first story at age fifteen.

Zane Grey Defined a Genre

Louis L'Amour
If your name was Louis L'Amour and you wrote about men tougher than nails, would you adopt a penname?

Louis L'Amour, The Read Deal
Hondo by Louis L'Amour

Mark Twain
Mark Twain knew the real West as few other authors. His memoir, Roughing It, tells about his experiences as a newspaper reporter in Virginia City when it was as rough as any cow town and six-guns were always at the ready.

Best Western Writer of All Time?
Favorite Western Writer
Mark Twain on Heroes
Mark Twain Tells us How to Write

Jack Schaefer
Shane is one of my favorite Western films. The Jack Schaefer book is also one of my favorite Western novels. There are great films and there are great books, but Shane is a rare instance where both the book and film are distinguished in their own right. The movie is an honest rendition of Schaefer’s story, while artfully making adjustments for a visual presentation of a novel.

The Complex Lives of Common People

Patrick deWitt
deWitt has mastered an entertaining style and it makes the story much more enjoyable than a pedestrian account of oftentimes mundane events.

Non-Western Writers

Jane Austen

Jane's Fame, How Jane Austen Conquered the World

  • Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life. Mark Twain
  • Knowing you have something good to read before bed is among the most pleasurable of sensations. Vladimir Nabokov
  • Thou shalt not is soon forgotten, but Once upon a time lasts forever. Philip Pullman
  • Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another’s skin, another’s voice, another’s soul. Joyce Carol Oates
  • No iron can pierce the heart with such force as a period put just at the right place. Isaac Babel 
  • There is no friend as loyal as a book.” Ernest Hemingway
  • Be awesome! Be a book nut! Dr. Seuss
  • I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me. Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Books are a uniquely portable magic. Stephen King
  • Reading brings us unknown friends. HonorĂ© de Balzac
  • Substitute 'Damn' every time you're inclined to write 'very;' your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. Mark Twain
  • It is so unsatisfactory to read a noble passage and have no one you love at hand to share the happiness with you.  Mark Twain
  • I get annoyed when a self-indulgent writer just shows off what he knows but doesn't really tell a story. To me storytelling is first a craft. Then if you're lucky, it becomes an art form. But first, it's got to be a craft. You've got to have a beginning, middle and end.  Robert Ludlum
  • I think I did pretty well, considering I started out with nothing but a bunch of blank paper. Steve Martin
  • Writing a book is a adventure. To begin with it is a toy and amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him out to the public. Winston Churchill
  • Some editors are failed writers, but so are most writers. T. S. Eliot
  • When a book, any sort of book, reaches a certain intensity of artistic performance it becomes literature. That intensity may be a matter of style, situation, character, emotional tone, or idea, or half a dozen other things. It may also be a perfection of control over the movement of a story similar to the control a great pitcher has over a ball. Raymond Chandler
  • I'm all in favor of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools. Let's start with typewriters. Solomon Short
  • In a thousand words I can have the Lord's Prayer, the 23rd Psalm, the Hippocratic Oath, a sonnet by Shakespeare, the Preamble to the Constitution, Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and almost all of the Boy Scout Oath. Now exactly what picture were you planning to trade for all that? Roy H. Williams
  • It might reasonably be said that all art at some time and in some manner becomes mass entertainment, and that if it does not it dies and is forgotten.  Raymond Chandler
  • The true alchemists do not change lead into gold; they change the world into words. William H. Gass
  • Write without pay until somebody offers pay; if nobody offers within three years, sawing wood is what you were intended for.  Mark Twain