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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 21 Collections and/or Records:

Zane Grey personal correspondence, approximately 1900-1960

 Sub-Series
Identifier: MSS 6081 Series 1 Sub-Series 2
Scope and Contents Contains correspondence between Zane Grey and family members, editors, and fans. Most of the material deals with family concerns and Grey's writings dating from approximately 1900 to 1960.

Zane Grey personal papers, approximately 1900-1976

 Series
Identifier: MSS 6081 Series 1
Scope and Contents Contains materials concerning Grey's life and death and his personal relationships with friends and family. These materials include autographs, correspondence with his wife, Lina Grey, and son, Romer, journals, itineraries, and other materials documenting his fishing expeditions and writing trips, and biographical histories written about him both during and after his life dating from approximately 1900 to 1976.

Zane Grey personal papers, approximately 1910-1945

 Sub-Series
Identifier: MSS 6081 Series 1 Sub-Series 1
Scope and Contents Documents various personal activities of Zane Grey and includes autographs, notebooks, legal records, blueprints, information on the Liberty ship named for him, and other materials dating from approximately 1910 to 1945.

Zane Grey photographic negatives, approximately 1919-1980

 Sub-Series — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 6081 Series 10
Scope and Contents Contains color, black and white, and glass negatives for photographs contained in other series. Each negative possesses the same item number as its corresponding photograph with an N after the number. Dated approximately 1919-1980.

Zane Grey photographs of camping, approximately 1875-1960

 Sub-Series
Identifier: MSS 6081 Series 10 Sub-Series 3
Scope and Contents Contains photographs documenting camping expeditions and trips in the American West. It contains photographs of Zane Grey hunting lions and bears, on horseback in Monument Valley, Death Valley, the Grand Canyon, Rainbow Bridge, and various other locations in Utah, Arizona, and California. It also contains photographs at Winkle Bar, the Tonto Basin, Rogue River, and others dating from approximately 1875 to 1960.

Zane Grey photographs of fishing, approximately 1890-1950

 Sub-Series
Identifier: MSS 6081 Series 10 Sub-Series 2
Scope and Contents Contains photographs documenting Zane Grey's fishing expeditions and achievements. It contains photographs of fishing on the Lackawaxen River, Tahiti, New Zealand, Australia, Cocos and Galapogos Islands, Mexico, Nova Scotia, Florida, California, Oregon, Washington, and other places. Many of the photographs document experiences that were used in Zane Grey's fishing tales and date from approximately 1890 to 1950.

Zane Grey photographs of properties, approximately 1890-1980

 Sub-Series
Identifier: MSS 6081 Series 10 Sub-Series 4
Scope and Contents Contains photographs documenting the properties of Zane Grey. It includes photographs of their homes in Lackawaxen, Pennsylvania; Altadena, California; Catalina, California; and the surrounding areas dating from approximately 1890 to 1980.

Zane Grey prints and photographs, approximately 1861-1980

 Series — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 6081 Series 10
Scope and Contents Contains photographs documenting Zane Grey's family, fishing and camping expeditions, and properties. It contains photographs that document his trips to the Western United States that inspired his novels, and fishing trips that inspired his tales of fishing dating from approximately 1861 to 1980.

Zane Grey realia, approximately 1900-1976

 Series
Identifier: MSS 6081 Series 9
Scope and Contents Contains lockets, a pocket watch, and a gold wedding band, stamps, and other artifacts related to the life and activities of the Grey family dating from approximately 1900 to 1976.

Zane Grey screenplays, 1923-1955

 Series
Identifier: MSS 6081 Series 3
Scope and Contents Contains forty three screenplays, scripts, and treatments for works by Zane Grey dating from 1923 to 1955.