Zane Grey personal papers, approximately 1900-1976
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.
- approximately 1900-1976
Conditions Governing Access
Open for public research.
Conditions Governing Use
It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to publish material from Zane Grey papers must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Board of Curators.
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. For weeks Grey lived the life of a Westerner in the deserts of Arizona and Utah. 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 he, 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. (For a useful and virtually complete list of his books and other writings, see the bibliography on pages 250-273 of Frank Gruber's biography of Grey).
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.
Arranged in five series: 1. Zane Grey personal papers, approximately 1910-1945. 2. Zane Grey personal correspondence, approximately 1900-1960. 3. Zane Grey journals, 1921-1933. 4. Condolences and memorial programs for Zane Grey, 1939-1941. 5. Zane Grey biographies, approximately 1920-1976.