The Virginian, Hopalong Cassidy, Riders of the Purple Sage, Shane, Western Story Magazine
a genre of popular American fiction characteristically set in the late nineteenth century in the Western and Southwestern states and featuring cattle-ranchers, cowboys, sheriffs, and outlaws as principal protagonists. Emerson Hough was among the first exponents of the mode; its first classic is Owen Wister's The Virginian (1902), which established numerous enduring features in its narrative of Wyoming cow-punchers of the 1880s. Clarence E. Mulford's Hopalong Cassidy (1910), Zane Grey's Riders of the Purple Sage (1912), and Jack Schaeffer's Shane (1949) are among the best-known examples, in each of which the element of violence that is a significant attribute of the Western is present to some extent; the sharpness with which the conflict between good and evil is typically drawn is intrinsic to the quasi-mythological character of much Western writing. The better known of the pulp magazines which sustained the genre from the 1920s onward include Western Story Magazine (1927) and Zane Grey's Western Magazine (1947). Among the works which broadly conform to the specifications of the Western while possessing more developed literary qualities are Walter Van Tilburg Clark's The Ox-Bow Incident (1940), A. B. Guthrie's The Big Sky (1947), and E. L. Doctorow's Welcome to Hard Times (1960). In more recent decades the Western idiom has been adapted by numerous novelists, examples being Michael Ondaatje's The Collected Works of Billy the Kid (1981) and William Burroughs's The Place of Dead Roads (1984). William W. Savage's study The Cowboy Hero appeared in 1979.