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Zane Grey

Zane Grey: His Life, His Adventures, His Women

THOMAS H. PAULY
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 408
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5406/j.ctt1xchpf
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  • Book Info
    Zane Grey
    Book Description:

    Zane Grey was a disappointed aspirant to major league baseball and an unhappy dentist when he belatedly decided to take up writing at the age of thirty. He went on to become the most successful American author of the 1920s, a significant figure in the early development of the film industry, and a central player in the early popularity of the Western._x000B_ _x000B_Thomas H. Pauly's work is the first full-length biography of Grey to appear in over thirty years. Using a hitherto unknown trove of letters and journals, including never-before-seen photographs of his adventures--both natural and amorous--Zane Grey has greatly enlarged and radically altered the current understanding of the superstar author, whose fifty-seven novels and one hundred and thirty movies heavily influenced the world's perception of the Old West._x000B_

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09211-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. List of Illustrations
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    On November 26, 1939, Zane Grey’s wife of thirty-four years, Dolly Grey, responded to a note of condolence from Dan Beard, a distant friend, who had written when he learned about Zane’s death:

    My thanks to you and Mrs. Beard for your letter of sympathy. Zane’s passing was so sudden and unexpected that I can’t realize it. Somehow, it seems to me that he is just away on one of those adventurous trips he loved so much—and perhaps he is.

    It was splendid of you to say that you considered Zane a man of great genius. I know that...

  6. 1 Wayward Youth: 1872–90
    (pp. 13-25)

    Pearl Zane Gray’s pioneer heritage was imprinted on his consciousness with the name his parents gave him at his birth on January 31, 1872. Anecdotal histories report his given name of Pearl as derived from the mourning attire of Queen Victoria that newspapers regularly described as “pearl gray.” Although Pearl may also have been named after a distant relative, his unusual, female name caused much taunting and embarrassment. Eventually he dropped it, though not until his twenties, and long after the spelling of his last name had been changed from Gray to Grey. His middle name of Zane, by which...

  7. 2 Quest for Direction: 1890–1905
    (pp. 26-58)

    By the precocious age of fifteen, Pearl was already “very expert in extracting teeth” (5, 8). Rural Ohio was so sufficiently free of regulation that he was able to practice dentistry evenbeforehis relocation to Columbus. In Zanesville, Lewis employed cocaine, but this sedative still necessitated a deft removal of the tooth to prevent pain. From his baseball and fishing, Pearl had developed a powerful grip and sure hand that made him a valuable assistant. One Saturday as Pearl was cleaning the office, Lewis enlisted his help with an extraction and was so pleased with the result that he...

  8. 3 Adventurous Apprentice: 1906–10
    (pp. 59-94)

    In one of the few reviews ofThe Last of the Plainsmen(1908),Forest and Streamoffered the following information about the work’s little-known author: “Dr. Grey hails from Pike county, Pennsylvania. A couple of years ago he had in contemplation a trip to South America; a cruise in a small boat around the Peninsula of Labrador to Hudson Bay; and a journey through the Arizona desert country. He chose the latter.”¹

    These comments reveal that, long before Grey became famous, the editors of this magazine were aware of both him and his plans. Even thoughForest and Streamdid...

  9. 4 Pursuit of the Dream: 1911–14
    (pp. 95-132)

    In March 1911, four months after the publication ofThe Heritage of the Desert, Field and Streampresented the first installment of “Down an Unknown Jungle River.” For this issue, the editors prepared a special, bright-red cover with a hugeZslashing from top to bottom of the page, like the famous mark of Zorro. A photograph of Zane appeared center left of theZ, with his name completed in block letters to the right. Although Warner, the magazine’s owner, shrewdly calculated the benefit of this promotion to his magazine, his backing came when Grey badly needed it, and earned...

  10. 5 Moviemaking and Button Fish: 1915–19
    (pp. 133-177)

    During the spring of 1914, Grey sent Robert Davis an undated postcard on which he wrote, “You will be pleased to learn that the book you inspired me to write has been for a month the best selling book in the United States.” He did not identify the novel, but his card was a piece of promotion forThe Light of Western Stars, with an illustrated scene on the front and an exciting summary of the story on the back.¹ Besides urging Zane to write this novel, Davis had agreed to serialize it inMunsey’s, the magazine he edited, and...

  11. 6 Calamity: 1920–23
    (pp. 178-218)

    By 1920, the forty-seven-year-old and still youthful Zane Grey was on top and in charge, and he had no inkling of disaster on the horizon. After struggling with rejection and disappointment for the first ten years of his writing career, and then capitalizing on his hard-won advances during the years spanned by World War I, he now confronted a clamoring demand for anything he wrote. During a visit to New York City in January 1920, he reflected in his journal on the intoxicating effect of the intense competition for his work:

    I seem to find myself a name to reckon...

  12. 7 Movin’ On: 1924–25
    (pp. 219-253)

    Had Zane been able to foresee the future, he would have done nothing and given thanks that his problems passed so quickly. Of course, he could not, and in deciding to take action, he prolonged the healing process. Prior to his departure for New York City, he mailed the CatalinaIslanderan article entitled “Heavy Tackle for Heavy Fish,” which ran on the front page of the January 2, 1924, issue. This article opens with the declaration, “After years of trial and experience I have come to the conclusion that the standard twentyfour-thread line was not heavy enough for broadbill...

  13. 8 Fresh Starts and Farewells: 1925–30
    (pp. 254-280)

    In its February 21, 1925, issue,Publishers Weeklyran an article about the one hundred best-selling authors from 1900 through 1924 and ranked Zane Grey number six. The five authors above him—Winston Churchill, Harold Bell Wright, Booth Tarkington, George Barr McCutcheon, and Mary Roberts Rinehart—started writing best sellers before 1910.¹ Since Grey did not make the annual list until 1915, he was more recent and would have been higher had the starting date been later. A follow-up article in 1927 entitled “The Most Popular Authors of Fiction in the Post-War Period, 1919–1926” ranked Grey first and the...

  14. 9 Undone: 1930–39
    (pp. 281-310)

    Common understanding of Depression history holds that it began on October 24, 1929, when the stock market “crashed.” On that day the Dow Jones Average gave up thirty-four points, or 9 percent, on trading volume that was three times normal. The selling actually started in September when the market hit a record high of 386. Black Thursday, as the 24th came to be known, saw an across-the-board plunge that erased paper profits for the year so far. Moreover, the decline continued through the rest of October and persisted into November. By November 13, the DJA had dropped to 198,which represented...

  15. Postscript
    (pp. 311-314)

    Zane Grey died during a resurgence of interest in the Western. Over the years of the Depression, the genre was kept alive by an outpouring of B-films for “double features” that the major studios offered, along with free china, to lure penny-pinching audiences to theaters. Nearly half of all the film adaptations of Grey novels were B-films from the decade of the Depression. These low-budget productions drastically reduced his revenues from film rights, but they, more than book sales, saved him from bankruptcy and inched him back to a modest income. By 1939, Westerns had regained enough popularity to become...

  16. Appendix: Grey’s World Records
    (pp. 315-316)
  17. Notes
    (pp. 317-358)
  18. Bibliography
    (pp. 359-370)
  19. Index
    (pp. 371-386)
  20. Back Matter
    (pp. 387-388)