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Zane Grey, born Pearl Zane Grey Biography

(1872–1939), born Pearl Zane Grey, The Last of the Plainsmen, Riders of the Purple Sage, Riders

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Francis Edward Grainger Biography to Thomas Anstey Guthrie Biography

American novelist, born in Zanesville, Ohio, educated at the University of Pennsylvania. A youthful enthusiasm for dime novels and stories of his great- great-grandfather's heroic actions against the Indians gave rise to Grey's lasting conviction that literature and life were inextricably linked. He moved to New York ostensibly to practise dentistry, but in reality to get closer to the heart of publishing. In 1905 he married Lisa Elise Roth, who provided Grey with support as he strove to establish himself as a writer. The Last of the Plainsmen was published in 1908, but it was not until the publication of Riders of the Purple Sage (1912) that he hit the bestseller lists. By pairing the civilizing heroine, Jane Withersteen, with Lassiter, the anarchic individualist, Grey ensured that the attraction they feel for each other is strong enough to indicate how each yearns for the other's strengths, thus initiating a dialogue of forces which is not resolved until the end of the book. This, combined with the book's narrative drive and intense, excitable language, indicates why Riders remains the most famous of all Western novels. Grey wrote over sixty novels in all, but he never lost his love for the wilderness, returning frequently to the deserts which he felt constituted his real spiritual home.

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