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Literature >> 1900-1960
writer of westerns
Pearl Zane Gray was born on January 31, 1872, in Zanesville, Ohio. He dropped the first name and changed the spelling of his last name sometime prior to becoming a successful author. An excellent baseball player as a teenager, he won a baseball scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied dentistry. He established a dental practice in New York City in 1898, and played briefly with a minor league baseball team in Wheeling, West Virginia, before giving up both professions in favor of writing.
Grey's first published writing was a fishing article, in 1902. His first novel, Betty Zane, was based on stories he had heard about frontier life in Ohio while he was growing up. Unable to find a publisher, he printed the book himself in 1904, but sold very few copies. In 1905 he married Lina Elise Roth, who encouraged his writing career. After a honeymoon in California the couple settled in Lackawaxen Township, Pennsylvania. They eventually had three children -- Romer, Betty and Loren.
Grey's first success came with The Heritage of the Desert, which was published by Harper's in 1910. Riders of the Purple Sage, published by Harper's in 1912, established his reputation, and eventually became his best-selling book. By the time of his death Grey had written almost 90 books. In addition to westerns, he also wrote books with fishing themes, many short stories, a biography of George Washington as a young man, and several stories for children.
In 1918, Grey moved his family to Altadena, California, and soon after established Zane Grey Productions, which made movies based on his books. The company was later bought by Jesse Laskey, who went on to help establish Paramount Pictures, which also made several movies based on Grey's books.
In addition to writing, Grey spent long periods of time on various adventures, with the blessings of his wife. It became his habit to spent part of the year traveling and adventuring, and the rest of the year using his adventures as the basis for his stories.
Zane Grey died of a heart attack at his home on October 23, 1939; he is buried in the Union Cemetery of Lackawaxen, Pennsylvania.
Partial List of His Works
Betty Zane (1904)
This page was last updated on 01/31/2017.