- Western fiction
Western fiction is a genre of literature set in the
American Old Westbetween the years of 1860 and 1900. Well-known writers of Western fiction include Zane Greyfrom the early 1900s and Louis L'Amourfrom the mid 20th century. The genre peaked around the early 1960s, largely due to the popularity of televised Westerns such as " Bonanza". Readership began to drop off in the mid- to late 1970s and has reached a new low in the 2000s. Most bookstores, outside of a few western states, only carry a small number of Western fiction books.
The Western got its start in the "
penny dreadfuls" and later the " dime novels" that first began to be published in the mid-nineteenth century. These cheaply made books were published to capitalize on the many fanciful yet supposedly true stories that were being told about the mountain men, outlaws, settlers and lawmen who were taming the western frontier.
By 1900, the new medium of
pulp magazinesalso helped to relate these adventures to easterners. Meanwhile, non-American authors like the German Karl Maypicked up the genre, went to full novel length, and made it hugely popular and successful in continental Europe from about 1880 on, though they were generally dismissed as trivial by the literary critics of the day.
The western in
American literaturebegan to emerge with the novels of James Fenimore Cooper, particularly his " Leatherstocking Tales". But The Virginian by Owen Wister, published in 1902, is considered by many to be the pioneering "literary" western novel, containing the core element of a rugged individual who stick to his guns in the face of trouble, neglecting chances to simply walk away. This seeming bundle of clichés was fresh and hugely popular in 1902, and elements of this formula appear in most Western stories ever since.
Popularity grew with the publication of
Zane Grey's " Riders of the Purple Sage" in 1912. When pulp magazinesexploded in popularity in the 1920s, western fiction greatly benefited (as did the author Max Brand, who excelled at the western short story). The simultaneous popularity of Western movies in the 1920s also helped the genre.
1940s and 1950s
In the 1940s several seminal westerns were published including "
The Ox-Bow Incident" (1940) by Walter van Tilburg Clark, " The Big Sky" (1947) and " The Way West" (1949) by A.B. Guthrie, Jr., and "Shane" (1949) by Jack Schaefer. Many other western authors gained readership in the 1950s, such as Luke Short, Ray Hogan, and Louis L'Amour.
The genre peaked around the early 1960s, largely due to the tremendous number of westerns on
television. The burnout of the American public on television westerns in the late 1960s seemed to have an effect on the literature as well, and interest in western literature began to wane.
1970s and 1980s
In the 1970s, the work of
Louis L'Amourbegan to catch hold of most western readers and he has tended to dominate the western reader lists ever since. George G. Gilmanalso maintained a cult following for several years in the 1970s and 1980s. Larry McMurtry's and Cormac McCarthy's works remain notable. Specifically, McMurtry's " Lonesome Dove" and McCarthy's " Blood Meridian" (both published in 1985) are recognized as major masterpieces both within and beyond the genre. Elmer Kelton, mostly noted for his novels "The Good Old Boys" and "The Time it Never Rained", was voted by the Western Writers of America as the "Best Western Writer of All Time". Western readership as a whole began to drop off in the mid- to late 1970s.
1990s and 2000s
Readership of western fiction reached a new low in the 2000s, and most bookstores, outside of a few western states, only carry a small number of Western fiction books. Nevertheless, several Western fiction series are published monthly, such as "
The Trailsman, Slocum," and " Longarm." The genre has seen the rumblings of a revival and 2008 saw the publication of an all western short story magazine [Great Western Fiction] [http://www.greatwesternfiction.com] which is published by Dry River Publishing in Colorado. Unfortunately this magazine was short lived - the publication has already folded.
Western authors are represented by the
Western Writers of America, who present the annual Spur Awards and Owen Wister Award for Lifetime Achievement. The organization was founded in 1953 to promote the literature of the American West. While the founding members were mostly western fiction writers, the organization began getting a number of other members from other backgrounds such as historians, regional history buffs, and writers from other genres.
List of Western fiction authors
Western Writers of Americawebsite: http://www.westernwriters.org/
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
List of Western fiction authors — This is a list of some notable authors in the western fiction genre. Note that some writers listed below have also written in other genres. Contents: Top · 0–9 A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z A … Wikipedia
Western — may refer to: *Western culture (also called Western civilization), the human cultures of European origin * Western (genre), a category of fiction and visual art centered on the American Old West (Western United States) ** Western fiction, the… … Wikipedia
Western Writers of America — Western Writers of America, founded 1953, promotes literature, both fiction and non fiction, pertaining to the American West. Although its founders wrote traditional western fiction, the more than five hundred current members also include… … Wikipedia
Western (genre) — Justus D. Barnes, from The Great Train Robbery The Western is a genre of various visual arts, such as film, television, radio, literature, painting and others. Westerns are devoted to telling stories set primarily in the latter half of the 19th… … Wikipedia
western — /wes teuhrn/, adj. 1. lying toward or situated in the west: our company s western office. 2. directed or proceeding toward the west: a western migration. 3. coming or originating from the west, as a wind. 4. (often cap.) of, pertaining to, living … Universalium
Fiction House — is an American publisher of pulp magazines and comic books that existed from the 1920s to the 1950s. Its comics division was best known for its pinup style good girl art, as epitomized by the company s most popular character, Sheena, Queen of the … Wikipedia
Fiction — is the telling of stories which are not real. More specifically, fiction is an imaginative form of narrative, one of the four basic rhetorical modes. Although the word fiction is derived from the Latin fingo, fingere, finxi, fictum , to form,… … Wikipedia
Western approches — Western Approaches Film de guerre de Pat Jackson. Pays: Grande Bretagne Date de sortie: 1944 Technique: couleurs Durée: 1 h 23 Résumé L équipage d un navire marchand torpillé par un sous marin ennemi est utilisé comme appât par… … Dictionnaire mondial des Films
Western Australian Premier's Book Awards — The Western Australian Premier s Book Awards is an award for books and scripts written by Western Australians or about Western Australia. Awards are provided by the Government of Western Australia, and the awards process is managed by the State… … Wikipedia
Western — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Western (homonymie). Le western est un genre cinématographique dont l action se déroule en Amérique du Nord lors de la conquête de l Ouest au XIXe siècle. Il apparaît dès l invention du cinématographe en… … Wikipédia en Français