Larry McMurtry was born into Texas cattle ranching, but forsaked that life for one as a writer. After receiving his M.A. at Rice University, McMurtry joined Wallace Stegner‘s creative writing program at Stanford University. Stegner, who had written several highly successful western novels, recognized McMurtry’s talent and encouraged his ambitions to write about the modern West.
While McMurtry developed his skills in writing, he opened two bookstores, one in Archer City, which was the model for the town, Thalia, present in many of his novels. The other is located in the Georgetown area of Washington, DC. His shops, named Booked Up, are the largest sellers of used books in the country with over 400,000 titles.
McMurtry’s early works showed the progression of the Old West becoming a more modern west, where ” cowboys on horseback confront wealthy oilmen in Cadillacs; where the sons and daughters of ranchers prefer the glitter and flash of the movie palaces to a hard life living off the land.” He was enamored of the influence modern society had on the time-honored traditions and standards of the American West. More heroic than McMurtry’s earlier novels, Lonesome Dove (1985) nonetheless defies the conventions of the traditional western novel with its often starkly realistic and brutal portrait of life in the Old West.
McMurtry is likely best known for his novels adapted for screenplays such as: Horseman, Pass By on which the movie Hud was based; The Last Picture Show; Terms of Endearment which won five Academy Awards; and Lonesome Dove which was adapted for a television miniseries. He also co-wrote the screenplay for Brokeback Mountain. McMurtry has written 29 novels, two collections of essays on western cultural life and western films, three memoirs, and more than thirty screenplays for film adaptation.
In more recent news, Larry McMurtry has been co-writing the screenplay for the film adaptation of his 2000 novel, Boone’s Lick. On April 29, 2011, McMurtry married Faye Kesey, widow of Ken Kesey (author of One Flew Over a Cuckoo’s Nest), in a civil ceremony in Archer City, Texas.
Happy 75th Birthday, Larry McMurtry! We wish you many more healthy and successful years!
I hope you enjoyed this bit of biographical history on one of our great authors.
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