Portrait of Zane Grey as a young man, ca. 1895.
Zane Grey was a popular and widely read novelist of the American West.
Grey was born in Zanesville, Ohio, on January 31, 1872. His parents were Lewis Grey and Alice Josephine Zane Grey. As a teenager, Grey was an excellent baseball player. He won a baseball scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied to become a dentist. Once he left school and began his dental practice in New York, Grey realized that he was not happy. He decided to leave dentistry behind and become a writer.
Grey's first novel, Betty Zane, drew inspiration from the stories he had heard about frontier Ohio when he was growing up. He wrote Betty Zane in 1904 but was not able to find a publisher at first. Refusing to give up, Grey traveled west and continued writing. In 1910, he had his first success when Harper's Magazine published The Heritage of the Desert. Two years later, Harper's published Riders of the Purple Sage.
Grey married Lina Elise Roth in 1905. The couple had three children, Romer, Betty, and Loren. After publication of The Heritage of the Desert, the family moved to Altadena, California. Grey also had a hunting lodge in Arizona. Each year, Grey spent time traveling in the west and fishing in the Pacific. He then would return home and spend time writing.
Grey died unexpectedly of a heart attack on October 23, 1939. By the time of his death, he had written almost ninety books. Most of his books were Westerns, but he also wrote nine books that had a fishing theme. Grey also published many short stories, a biography of George Washington as a young man, and several stories for children. Some of Grey's other popular Western novels included Spirit of the Border, Desert Gold, The Last Trail, The Call of the Canyon, and The Thundering Herd.