Dabbler Heroes – Zane Grey

zane grey

Nige on the man’s man with the girl’s name…

Talking of names (as we were last week), I was delighted to learn that Zane Grey, the tough-nut writer of pulp westerns – who died, very rich and famous, on this day in 1939 – was christened Pearl. He soon dropped this unmanly handlle in favour of his second name, a much better fit with his style and personality.

Grey seems to have devoted his boyhood to violent brawling, fishing and getting beaten by his father, who encouraged his literary efforts by tearing his first finished story into shreds and giving him a sound thrashing. No wonder young Zane grew up with a troubled, tempestuous nature, prone all his life to depression.

He was also – though this was perhaps unrelated to his early experiences – notably prone to sexual dalliance. As he frankly warned his future wife:

I love to be free. The ordinary man is satisfied with a moderate income, a home, wife, children and all that… But I am a million miles from being that kind of man and no amount of trying will ever do any good… I shall never lose the spirit of my interest in women.

She married him anyway, accepting his tomcat ways, raising his children, managing his career and editing his work to such good effect that this inept, much-rejected would-be writer (and failed dentist and minor-league baseball player) soon achieved worldwide fame and became one of the first millionaire authors.

So now, when your young son proudly hands you his first literary effort, you know what to do.

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About Author Profile: Nige

Cravat-Wearer of the Year Nige, who, like Mr Kenneth Horne, prefers to remain anonymous, is a founder blogger of The Dabbler and has been a co-blogger on the Bryan Appleyard Thought Experiments blog. He is the sole blogger on Nigeness, and (for now) a wholly owned subsidiary of NigeCorp. His principal aim is to share various of life's pleasures.

4 thoughts on “Dabbler Heroes – Zane Grey

  1. george.jansen55@gmail.com'
    October 23, 2013 at 13:20

    Zane is a girl’s name? I know quite a few young women with names I’d hesitate to give a child, but no Zanes. I knew a Zenobia long ago.

    In Grey’s case it was a family name, for he was descended from the founders of Zanesville, the first American (i.e. non-native) settlement in the boundaries of the modern state of Ohio.

    And if he had to prone, he certainly chose the right activity: rifle shooting ain’t in it, whatever the NRA might tell you.

    • andrewnixon@blueyonder.co.uk'
      October 23, 2013 at 17:09

      Thanks for the Zane info. But re the girls name, you may want to read Nige’s first para again.

      • george.jansen55@gmail.com'
        October 23, 2013 at 22:02

        Sloppy of me. Did they name him after the river or the beer?

  2. johngjobling@googlemail.com'
    October 23, 2013 at 14:22

    Mostly forgotten today, the cowboy was an integral part of the postwar culture, movies, comics and television were awash with Rowdy Yates, Hoss Cartwright and Roy Rogers. Stern of countenance, square of jaw and light on dialogue the cowboy was, for the boys of the forties and fifties the epitome of cool. Toy departments heaved under the weight of cowboy sets (and cowgirl sets) complete with sixgun. Today’s sociologists would have had a field day.

    The cowboy novel seemed to be read mainly by adults, unread by the Stetson and chaps bedecked spotty youth. Arguably two entire generations grew up thinking that the Lone Ranger and Tonto were real. Only in recent years, reading Robert Caro’s monumental biography of LBJ and his description of East Texas and having read Wallace Stegner’s description of the far west, has it dawned upon me, not every baddie wore black. No siree.

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