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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

'An expression of life'


“I arise full of eagerness and energy, knowing well what achievement lies ahead of me.” – Zane Grey


Best known for his novels of the Old West, Grey idealized the American frontier and wrote some 9 million words in his lifetime.  His 1912 best-seller  Riders of the Purple Sage was the highlight of an amazing 90 books in the genre, many adapted into films and television productions. Overall, his novels and short stories have been made into 112 films, 2 television episodes and the series, The Zane Grey Theater.


Born on this date in 1872, Grey grew up in Zanesville, Ohio, a city founded by his maternal great-grandfather Ebenezer Zane, an American Revolutionary War patriot.  From an early age he was intrigued by history and even though he first chose dentistry as a career, he gravitated to writing. 


Grey struggled to get his work published and actually self-published his first novel.  Harper & Row, his publisher of choice, consistently rejected his work, including “Riders.”  But Grey wrangled an audience with a senior vice president, made an impassioned plea and got the book accepted.  The rest, as they say, is history – both literally and figuratively.


Besides his Westerns, he wrote 2 hunting books, 6 children’s books, 3 baseball books, and 8 fishing books.   His total book sales – which made him a millionaire many times over – have been over 40 million (and still counting).


A star baseball player in college and as a minor leaguer and a frequent brawler as a young man, his writing depicting both athleticism and fistfights were often cited by readers when talking about the "realism" in his books.  


 “Well, what is writing,” he responded,  “but an expression of my own life?”

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