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Grey, Zane, 1872-1939

 Person

Dates

  • Existence: 1872-1939

Biographical History

Zane Grey (1872-1939) was one of the world's most prominent and prolific writers of Western novels.

Pearl Zane Gray was born January 31, 1872, in his ancestral home of Zanesville, Ohio. The fourth of five children born to Lewis M. Gray, a dentist, and Josephine Alice Zane, his was an active boyhood marked by attendance at local schools and participation in many boyhood activities of which fishing and baseball were his favorites.

After serving an apprenticeship with his father, he entered dental school at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia in 1892. Although he was acclaimed for his success as an outstanding shortstop on the school's baseball team, his academic performance was only average. He graduated in 1896, and while practicing dentistry in New York City continued to play baseball with the Athletic Club in East Orange, New Jersey.

In 1900 he met his future wife, editor, and life-long source of encouragement, Lina Elise Roth, known as Dolly. During their five year courtship Gray changed his name to Zane Grey (dropping his first name and changing the spelling of his last), gave up his dental practice, and began a career as an author. After receiving many rejections by publishers, on his own he published his first book, entitled Betty Zane (1903). He and Dolly were married the following year, making their first home in Lackawaxen, Pennsylvania.

Grey's attention was drawn west to the geographic area which would provide the setting for most of his major books when he met Charles Jesse ("Buffalo") Jones in 1906. An older hunter who had set out to preserve and breed buffalo which were in danger of extinction, Jones took Grey to the American Southwest for the purpose of having Grey write a book about his life. Upon returning to the East fired by his experiences, he expressed his sentiments in The Last of the Plainsmen, a book about Jones. In 1910 he published Heritage of the Desert and in 1912 Riders of the Purple Sage. These two books were his first major successes in literature and the ones by which he established his national reputation as an author. Riders of the Purple Sage was enormously successful and is his best known and probably his best loved work.

His greatest sustained success, wealth, and fame came after him, Dolly, and their three children (Romer, Betty, and Lore) moved to Altadena, California, in 1918. Included among his works published during this time were To the Last Man, Tappan's Burro, Forlorn River, The Shepherd of Guadaloupe, Robbers' Roost, and The Trail Driver. By 1930 he was hailed as the most sought after writer in America.

When he was not writing, Grey took lengthy trips to such places as New Zealand, Australia, and Tahiti, where he set world records with his deep sea fishing catches (at one time he held ten world records) and where he had many of the experiences that later served as the basis for some of his writing. He enjoyed hunting and exploring as well, and these activities also found expression in his sports and adventure stories, written for both juvenile and adult readers.

Zane Grey died October 23, 1939, in Altadena, California. During his lifetime he sold nearly 20 million copies of his novels, and another 20 million have been sold posthumously. Before his death he published 40 western romances in addition to works for juveniles, and collections of short stories and books on his adventures as a hunter, explorer, and fisherman. Since his death another 23 of his books have been published. Desert Gold, The Rainbow Trail, The Border Legion, To The Last Man, The Shepherd of Guadaloupe, Robbers' Roost, The Trail Driver, Twin Sombreros, Ride the Man Down, Lost Pueblo, and Boulder Dam; and the novelettes Tappan's Burro, Don The Ranger, Canyon Walls From Missouri, and The Horse Thief.

Citation

Zane Grey: A Biography, 1970 (comprehensive list of book titles, sales statistics)

Wikipedia, website viewed June 14, 2011 (b. Jan. 31, 1872, Zanesville, Ohio; parents: Lewis M. Gray, Josephine Alice Zane Grey; father a dentist; 4th of 5 children; Grey loved fishing and baseball; attended dental school at University of Pennsylvania at Philadelphia from 1892-1896; was shortstop on University baseball team; played baseball with athletic club of East Orange, New Jersey; met wife Dolly in 1900, courted 5 years before marrying; Grey's occupation orginially dentist, then author; rejected by publishers so self-published Betty Zane in 1903; lived in Lackawaxen, Penns. with wife; met Charles Jesse "Buffalo" Jones in 1906; travelled Jones to American Southwest; wrote Last of the Plainsmen about Jones; published Heritage of the Desert in 1910 and Riders of the Purple Sage in 1912; moved to Altadena, Calif. with family in 1918; from 1918-1930 wrote To the Last Man, Tappan's Burro, Forlorn River, The Shepherd of Guadaloupe, Robbers' Roost, and The Trail Driver, among others; took trips to New Zealand, Australia and Tahiti for deep-sea fishing; held ten deep-sea fishing records; Grey hunted and explored; his novels produced into movies; also wrote short stories and recounts of his own adventures; Grey's novels sold 20 million copies before his death and another 20 million copies after; published 40 western romances before death, another 23 published posthumously; married Lina "Dolly" Elise Roth Nov. 21, 1905, New York, N.Y.; children: Romer Zane, Betty, and Loren; d. Oct. 23, 1939, Atlandena, Calif.)

Found in 9 Collections and/or Records:

Condolences and memorial service programs for Zane Grey, 1939-1941

 Sub-Series
Identifier: MSS 6081 Series 1 Sub-Series 4
Scope and Contents Contains programs, cards, and other materials documenting Zane Grey's death, dating from 1939 to 1941.

Individual and corporate solicitations, 1924-1934

 Record Group — Box: 2, Folder: 2-3
Identifier: MSS 8316 Series 1 Sub-Series 4
Scope and Contents This file contains correspondence from various individuals and corporations asking for autographs, money, information, guest appearances, lectures, specimens from fishing expeditions, and advice from Zane Grey, dating from 1924 to 1934. Some of the letters also include requests for Zane Grey to read poetry or works of literature and ideas for future plot lines.

Margaret Summerhays collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS P 122
Scope and Contents Collection includes photographs, postcards, and a photograph taken or collected by Margaret Summerhays.

Zane Grey business correspondence, 1933-1938

 Sub-Series — Box: 2, Folder: 4-5
Identifier: MSS 8316 Series 1 Sub-Series 5
Scope and Contents This subseries contains a letter from Edwin G. Bowen regarding the economy and its financial implications for Zane Grey, Inc., dating from 1933 to 1938. It also contains letters are addressed to Romer Grey, Inc. and Romer Grey Ltd. and blank Romer Grey Studios stationery.

Zane Grey correspondence, 1895-1938

 Series — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 8316 Series 1
Scope and Contents This series contains personal correspondence of Zane and Lina Elise Grey dating from 1895 to 1938. It includes correspondence and postcards between Zane Grey, Lina Elise Grey, R. C. Grey, his children Betty Zane and Romer Grey, various women and others. Also contains early letters from publishers concerning acceptance of rejection of Zane Grey's manuscripts, correspondence regarding the Izaak Walton League, fishing, Captain Laurie Mitchell, fan mail and solicitations, and business...

Zane Grey fan mail and solicitations, 1920-1938

 Sub-Series — Box: 2, Folder: 1-3
Identifier: MSS 8316 Series 1 Sub-Series 4
Scope and Contents This subseries contains fan mail and solicitations from individuals and corporations asking for various things from Zane Grey, dating from 1920 to 1938.

Zane Grey fishing correspondence, 1922-1938

 Sub-Series — Box: 1, Folder: 17-18
Identifier: MSS 8316 Series 1 Sub-Series 3
Scope and Contents This subseries contains correspondence regarding the Izaak Walton League and correspondence regarding fishing expeditions, requests for fishing information, endorsements of fishing equipment, Captain Laurie Mitchell, and other matters relating to Zane Grey's connections with fishing, dating from 1922 to 1938.

Zane Grey personal correspondence, 1895-1936

 Sub-Series — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 8316 Series 1 Sub-Series 1
Scope and Contents This subseries contains personal correspondence of Zane and Lina Elise Grey from 1895 to 1936. It includes correspondence and postcards between Zane Grey, Lina Elise Grey, R. C. Grey, and his children Betty Zane and Romer Grey. It also includes correspondence concerning various women including Claire Wilhelm, Louise Anderson, describing their relationships with Zane Grey, and letters from a clairvoyant named Anna Andre regarding her belief in Zane Grey's talents. There is also a letter from a...

Zane Grey publishing correspondence, 1904-1938

 Sub-Series — Box: 1, Folder: 11-16
Identifier: MSS 8316 Series 1 Sub-Series 2
Scope and Contents This subseries contains correspondence regarding the publishing of Zane Grey works from 1904 to 1938. It includes early letters from publishers rejecting Zane Grey's manuscripts, correspondence with Harper & Bros. after signing a deal with Zane Grey, and correspondence with various other publishers that published works of Zane Grey in book or magazine article form.