Speak of Zane Grey today and immediately one thinks of Westerns, of blazing guns, treacherous villains, virtuous women, heroes ten feet tall, and the most beautiful scenery in America. Long ago, the name Zane Grey became a household world, and is known around the world. He was very rich; at one time the world's highest paid author. But it was not always that way.
He was born Pearl Zane Gray in Zanesville, Ohio, January 31, 1872. His father was a farmer, preacher, and dentist. It was Doc Gray's desire that his son would also become a dentist, and before his fame Zane Grey fulfilled this desire.
The young Gray became proficient in the art of baseball, and actually won a scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania where his playing won fame for the school and himself. Newspapers carried stories and articles about his exploits on the diamond.
Encouraged by an editor to write a fishing story which appeared in Recreation Magazine, May 1902, Zane Grey decided to become a writer. He had long since changed the spelling of his last name from Gray to Grey, and with his first book would drop the name Pearl since he was far from being the effeminate type. Grey gave up his dental practice in New York City and devoted his entire time to writing. His first effort, Betty Zane, was refused by the publishers and was finally published by Grey with borrowed money. It appeared in 1903. It was not considered successful.
In 1907 Zane Grey made a trip West with Col. "Buffalo" Jones. This trip was the turning point in his life, but his book about Jones and his experiences in the Grand Canyon was not successful. Two more books about the Ohio Valley were unsuccessful. Grey then tried writing about baseball and met with the same results. Then in 1910 he submitted The Heritage of the Desert to Harper and Brothers and it was accepted. Like any aspiring writer Zane Grey thought this was the ticket to success, but his very next three books, part of the Ken Ward series, met with only moderate success. Riders of the Purple Sage was the next book to come from his prolific pen, and it was rejected by Harper. The young author argued that they had not read the manuscript, and insisted that the publisher was being unfair. The editor's wife sat up all night and read the story, and another contract was signed. Riders of the Purple Sage was and immediate success and has sold well over two million copies.
Zane Grey spent nearly all of his spare time fishing and hunting, mostly fishing. He owned two yachts, one a three masted schooner. The other had belonged to the Kaiser and cost Grey $40,000, and another $270,000 went into refurbishing it. On these boats, owned at different times, of course, Zane Grey visited many parts of the world in quest of large and rare fish. At one time or another he held all of the deep-sea fishing records, and today two of them remain unbroken.
In all Zane Grey is credited with 85 books which include eight books about his fishing exploits, three about hunting, and three anthologies. At least two manuscripts remain unpublished. One of these is THE REEF GIRL, a tale of TAhiti, and the other a story of YOUNG GEORGE WASHINGTON. There have been rumors, quite unfounded, of a manuscript entitled THE FRONTIER WIFE. One book about fishing, TALES OF MAN-EATING SHARKS, remains unpublished. Harper and Row have suspended all publication of Zane Grey books.
From his home at Lackawaxen, Pennsylvania, Grey moved to Altadena, California where the offices of Zane Grey, Inc. are still located. He had a huge pueblo type home at Avalon, Catalina Island, California, property in Tahiti, and at least one home (a hunting cottage, he called it) in the Tonto Basin of Arizona. This cottage has recently been restored.
In 1937, while fishing for steelhead on the Rogue River in Oregon, Grey suffered a stroke. His son Romer and a guide carried him to a car and got him home, where he recuperated. He made one more fishing expedition, this time to Australia. On October 23, 1939, after having just completed his morning workout with a weighted fishing rod in a fighting chair, Zane Grey suffered a heart attack and died in his Altadena home.
Zane Grey had a dream. He worked hard to make the money to satisfy his lifelong desire, and when he had the money he did not forget what it was for. He traveled extensively and then wrote about what he saw. His books made the West famous and earned him a fortune. Many of the writers of his day have faded into oblivion; Zane Grey's novels are still selling a million copies a year.
ZANE GREY TODAY
It is difficult to say just what precipitated the present revival of interest in Zane Grey. Perhaps the T.V. series, "The Zane Grey Theater" did it, or maybe the reading public has become tiered of the trash being pawned off on them as literature and desires to return to novels with morals and decency. At any rate it has happened to both Zane Grey and Edgar Rice Burroughs.
Following the appearance of The Zane Grey Theater, articles began to appear in various magazines and newspapers. Such magazines as "The Dental Student", "MD", the magazine for medical doctors, "Sports Illustrated", "True West", and "Field and Stream" reprinted Zane Grey stories in four issues. THE ZANE GREY COLLECTOR came into existence in the Spring of 1968. In late 1969 the ZANE GREY WESTERN MAGAZINE appeared on the newsstands. Long before this Grosset & Dunlap issued a series of 61 Zane Grey novels in a matched set called the "Great Western Edition.' Another matched set was published by Walter J. Black sometime referred to as "The Zane Grey Library" or "The Zane Grey Book Club." This was advertised extensively on the backs of various types of magazines, in newspapers, and folders stuck in other paperbacks.
In March 1970, Frank Gruber's long awaited ZANE GREY: A BIOGRAPHY was published. Critics gave varied reviews in newspapers all over America. On April 12, 1970 ground was broken at Zanesville, Ohio by Governor Rhodes for the ZANE GREY MUSEUM. And recently a letter has been written by Postmaster General Ray Blount giving assurance that serious consideration is being given to the possibility of a commemorative postage stamp honoring Zane Grey in 1972 -- the 100th anniversary of his birth.
As recently as 1968, motion picture rights were sold to another Zane Grey novel -- the title of which is still unannounced. It will bring the total to 106. A new line of paperback editions, in addition to the many that have already been published, is planned -- "Zane Grey Westerns." And Zane Grey is still appearing regularly in several foreign countries.
It looks very hopeful that the fame of this man, Zane Grey, will continue to grow.
The only thing Zane Grey wrote that even borders on fantasy is a recently discovered story called "The Adventures of Finspot." It is a 21 page booklet written for this daughter when she was very small. Only one copy is in existence -- until recently when she had a copy made for my collection.
Then he wrote a fishing story called "Trout Fisherman's Inferno." It's a humorous "fantasy" (a dream) likened unto "Dante's Inferno."
G. M. Farley -- Editor, The Zane Grey Collector
"I was overcome with the beauty, the sadness, the loneliness, the desertedness of it. Oh, Dolly, the rooms are haunted. Those are our spirits there. I thrilled and I wept. I recalled everything. I felt the cold of the old cottage. I saw you in bed — I heard Romer's tiny wail, I heard the wind, the river. For the first time I went into the room where my mother died. Something strange came over me there...The dust, the dirt, the decay, the ruin reproached me. Why have we not taken care of those places? They are a first and great part of our lives. Love, struggle, work, children — all came to us there."~ Letter from Zane Grey to Dolly
~ June 1929, Lackawaxen, Pennsylvania
Zane Grey Intro
The Edgar Rice Burroughs / Zane Grey Connection ~ Pt. 1
The Edgar Rice Burroughs / Zane Grey Connection ~ Pt. 2
The Edgar Rice Burroughs / Zane Grey Connection ~ Pt. 3
Zane Grey Bibliography Intro
Zane Grey Bibliography Illustrated Pt. 1
Zane Grey Bibliography Illustrated Pt. 2
Zane Grey Bibliography Illustrated Pt. 3
Zane Grey Bibliography Illustrated Pt. 4
Zane Grey Magazines Bibliography
Magazine Serials, Articles & Short Stories Bibliography
Zane Grey Comics I: Dell Westerns
Zane Grey Comics II: King of the Royal Mounted & BLBs
Zane Grey Biography
Zane Grey Altadena
Zane Grey Cover Mosaic
Zane Grey On The Web
Zane Grey Memorabilia
Zane Grey On Film