Quotes by Owen Wister
Sorry no quotes for author are available yet!!!
Owen Wister's Biography
American writer whose stories helped to establish the cowboy as an archetypical‚ individualist hero. Wister and his predecessor James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851) created the basic Western myths and themes‚ which were later popularized by such writers as Zane Grey and Max Brand. But before Wister‚ Theodore Roosevelt published his book The Winning of the West (1889-1896) to make clear the meaning of the land beyond the Mississippi to the whole country‚ and Mark Twain and Bret Harte wrote their stories about frontiersmen. In art‚ Frederik Remington‚ born and raised in the East‚ and Charles M. Russell‚ who worked as a cowboy‚ contributed to the image of cowboy life. Although Westerns are normally set in the 19th-century‚ they are not considered simply historical novel‚ but special kind of moral tales‚ in which the protagonist‚ usually male‚ must defend his personal values of life in a violent confrontation with socially destructive forces.

Owen Wister was born in Germantown‚ outside Philadelphia‚ as the son of Owen Jones Wister‚ a physician‚ and Sarah (Butler) Wister‚ daughter of the actress Fanny Kemble. His parents were interested in arts‚ Wister's mother played piano‚ and the family frequently traveled abroad. Wister attended briefly schools in Switzerland and England‚ and studied at St. Paul's School in Concord‚ New Hampshire and Harvard University.

After graduating in 1882‚ Wister studied two years music in Paris but then gave up a musical career‚ and settled in New York‚ where he worked as a bank clerk. Due to poor health‚ Wister spent some time in the West to restore his physical well-being. In 1885 he entered Harvard Law School‚ graduating in 1888. Before devoting himself to a writing‚ Wister had an office in the Philadelphia law firm of Francis Rawle‚ but he had no real desire to be a lawyer.

Wister had spent summers in the West‚ and on the basis of these experiences he started to produce Western sketches. The first story‚ 'Hank's Woman‚' appeared in Harper's‚ and launched his career as a writer. Beginning with his first encounter with Wyoming in 1854‚ he kept journals and notes‚ which were published in an edited form in WISTER OUT WEST (1958).

In 1891‚ after a conversation in which the author and Roosevelt discussed the literary potential of his impressions of western life‚ Wister began writing his stories of America's last internal frontier. These preriminary works eventually led to the novel THE VIRGINIAN: A HORSEMAN OF THE PLAINS (1902)‚ a story about the conflict between wilderness and civilization and the passing of the traditional way of life. Wister‚ who later characterized his best-selling book as an "expression of American faith"‚ dedicated it originally to Theodore Roosevelt: "Some of these pages you have seen‚ some you have praised‚ one stands new-written because you blamed it; and all‚ my dear critic‚ beg leave to remind you of their author's changeless admiration."

The story of a modest‚ quit hero‚ who is more comfortable with his horse than with other people‚ gained a huge popularity. In The Virginian Wister created the image of the West that was heroic as well exotic. However‚ for a modern reader the work can be a disappointment: "The 1902 novel‚ ancestor of the classic western‚ turned out to be not only corny and flag-waving but also intolerant and reactionary by today's standards. The story includes sentimental lectures on Americanism that sound like a jingoist speech by Theodore Roosevelt‚ to whom the book is dedicated." (Herbert Mitgang in The New York Times‚ December 2‚ 1989)

Virginian is set in the Wyoming territory during the late 1870s and 1880s. Courageous but mysterious cowboy known only as the 'Virginian' works as a foreman of a Wyoming cattle ranch. He meets a pretty schoolteacher Molly Wood from Vermont. She introduces him the works of Sir Walter Scott‚ Shakespeare‚ and Keats. The Virginian is forced to preside over the hanging of his best friend Steve‚ who has been accused and convicted of cattle rustling. Molly is horrified and Judge Henry‚ the Virginian's employer‚ explains her the code of the West. However‚ their marriage is threatened by Trampas‚ who also works on the farm. He vows to gun down the Virginian‚ whose honor in now at stake. "It is only the great mediocry that goes to law in these personal matters‚" Wister wrote. The climatic gun duel between the two men is probably the first "showdown" in fiction. Trampas fires first but misses and the Virginian kills him in self-defense. In the end the hero proves himself capable of taking his place in the community - he marries Molly and rides with her in the mountains. - The Virginian has been filmed several times‚ but the television series from 1962 to 1969 had little to do with the original dynamics of the story. Trampas (Doug McClure) appears in the series as an impulsive and vigorous cowboy‚ not a villain. The film adaptation from 1929 included the first famous exchange of Talkies: Huston (the villain): "You long-legged-sonova -". Cooper: "If you wanna call me that‚ smile." Huston: "With a gun in my belly‚ I always smile." Although the legendary American Western director‚ John Ford‚ knew Wister's work‚ he chose to film LIN MCLEAN (1898)‚ the author's first novel about a young cow-puncher‚ retitled as A Woman's Fool (1918).

In 1898 Wister married his cousin‚ Mary Channing; they had six children. Molly‚ as she was called by her family and friends‚ was socially active‚ member of the Philadelphia Board of Education‚ a founder of the Civic Club of Philadelphia‚ and defender of women's rights. She died in 1913‚ after giving birth to her sixth child. Her death was a deep blow to Wister and his novel‚ ROMNEY‚ which he had started in 1912‚ was left unfinished.

Wister's literary success did not inspire him to write more Western novels‚ although in his short prose Wister developed the genre of cowboy fiction. Several of his stories were illustrated by Frederick Remington. In 1904 appeared PHILOSOPHY 4‚ a story about college life at Harvard. It was followed by LADY BALTIMORE (1906)‚ about aristocratic Southerners in Charleston. It has been said that the novel made a hit of the white layered cake described in it. Wister's later major works include ROOSEVELT: THE STORY OF A FRIENDSHIP‚ 1880-1919 (1930)‚ based on the author's long acquaintance with Roosevelt‚ a Harvard classmate. Besides novels and histories Wister wrote books for children. Wister's collected writings were published in 11 volumes in 1928. He died in Kingston‚ Rhode Island on July 21‚ 1938.
Some rights reserved Petri Liukkonen (author) & Ari Pesonen. Kuusankosken kaupunginkirjasto 2008

 Add Comments  

Keshawn on 9/6/2011 4:42:07 PM

I wanted to spend a mntiue to thank you for this.
Read Owen Wister Books Online. Owen Wister Book List. Owen Wister Book Reviews, Read Owen Wister eBooks Online to Save Paper. Read Top Owen Wister Books Online From your PC, iMac or iPhone.