Authors: Louis L’Amour

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

American novelist and short-story writer

Author Works

Long Fiction:

Westward the Tide, 1950

Hopalong Cassidy and the Rustlers of West Fork, 1951 (as Tex Burns)

Hopalong Cassidy and the Trail to Seven Pines, 1951 (as Burns)

Hopalong Cassidy and the Riders of High Rock, 1951 (as Burns)

Hopalong Cassidy, Trouble Shooter, 1952 (as Burns)

Hondo, 1953

Showdown at Yellow Butte, 1953 (as Jim Mayo)

Utah Blaine, 1954 (as Mayo)

Crossfire Trail, 1954

Kilkenny, 1954

Heller with a Gun, 1955

Guns of the Timberlands, 1955

To Tame a Land, 1955

The Burning Hills, 1956

Silver Canyon, 1956

Sitka, 1957

Last Stand at Papago Wells, 1957

The Tall Stranger, 1957

Radigan, 1958

The First Fast Draw, 1959

Taggart, 1959

The Daybreakers, 1960

Flint, 1960

Sackett, 1961

Shalako, 1962

Killoe, 1962

High Lonesome, 1962

Lando, 1962

Fallon, 1963

How the West Was Won, 1963

Catlow, 1963

Dark Canyon, 1963

Mojave Crossing, 1964

Hanging Woman Creek, 1964

Kiowa Trail, 1964

The High Graders, 1965

The Sackett Brand, 1965

The Key-Lock Man, 1965

The Broken Gun, 1966

Kid Rodelo, 1966

Mustang Man, 1966

Kilrone, 1966

The Sky-Liners, 1967

Matagorda, 1967

Down the Long Hills, 1968

Chancy, 1968

Brionne, 1968

The Empty Land, 1969

The Lonely Men, 1969

Conagher, 1969

The Man Called Noon, 1970

Galloway, 1970

Reilly’s Luck, 1970

North to the Rails, 1971

Under the Sweetwater Rim, 1971

Tucker, 1971

Ride the Dark Trail, 1972

Callaghen, 1972

Treasure Mountain, 1972

The Ferguson Rifle, 1973

The Man from Skibbereen, 1973

The Quick and the Dead, 1973

The Californios, 1974

Sackett’s Land, 1974

Rivers West, 1975

The Man from the Broken Hills, 1975

Over on the Dry Side, 1975

The Rider of Lost Creek, 1976

To the Far Blue Mountains, 1976

Where the Long Grass Blows, 1976

Borden Chantry, 1977

Fair Blows the Wind, 1978

The Mountain Valley War, 1978

Bendigo Shafter, 1979

The Proving Trail, 1979

The Iron Marshal, 1979

The Warrior’s Path, 1980

Lonely on the Mountain, 1980

Comstock Lode, 1981

Milo Talon, 1981

The Cherokee Trail, 1982

The Shadow Riders, 1982

The Lonesome Gods, 1983

Ride the River, 1983

Son of a Wanted Man, 1984

The Walking Drum, 1984

Jubal Sackett, 1985

Passin’ Through, 1985

Last of the Breed, 1986

The Haunted Mesa, 1987

Short Fiction:

War Party, 1975

The Strong Shall Live, 1980

Yondering, 1980 (revised edition, 1989)

Buckskin Run, 1981

Bowdrie, 1983

Law the Desert Born, 1983

The Hills of Homicide, 1983

Bowdrie’s Law, 1984

Dutchman’s Flat, 1986

Riding for the Brand, 1986

The Trail to Crazy Man, 1986

The Rider of the Ruby Hills, 1986

Night over the Solomons, 1986

West from Singapore, 1987

Lonigan, 1988

Long Ride Home, 1989

The Outlaws of Mesquite, 1990

Valley of the Sun: Frontier Stories, 1995

West of Dodge: Frontier Stories, 1996

End of the Drive, 1997

Beyond the Great Snow Mountains, 1999

Off the Mangrove Coast, 2000

May There Be a Road, 2001

With These Hands, 2002

Poetry:

Smoke from This Altar, 1939

Nonfiction:

Frontier, 1984 (with photographs by David Muench)

The Sackett Companion: A Personal Guide to the Sackett Novels, 1988

A Trail of Memories: The Quotations of Louis L’Amour, 1988

Education of a Wandering Man, 1989.

Biography

Louis L’Amour (lah-MOHR), a best-selling American author of Western and frontier fiction, was born Louis Dearborn LaMoore. His father was a veterinarian, chief of police, and farm-machinery salesman. His mother wanted to be a teacher and poet but became a devoted mother of seven. Louis was the youngest.{$I[A]L’Amour, Louis[LAmour, Louis]}{$S[A]LaMoore, Louis Dearborn;L’Amour, Louis}{$S[A]Burns, Tex;L’Amour, Louis}{$S[A]Mayo, Jim;L’Amour, Louis}{$I[geo]UNITED STATES;L’Amour, Louis[LAmour, Louis]}{$I[tim]1908;L’Amour, Louis[LAmour, Louis]}

Although he relished reading, LaMoore quit school in 1923. He became a cattle skinner in Texas, a farmer in New Mexico, a circus hand and performer, boxer, and sailor. In 1935, he sold a story to True Gang Life and in 1939 published (the possibly self-financed) Smoke from This Altar, a collection of his poetry. He served in the U.S. Army from 1942 to 1946, part of the time in France and Germany in transportation and the tank-destroyer corps.

Early in 1946, LaMoore settled in Los Angeles. He wrote detective, action, and Western fiction as Jim Mayo for pulp magazines, and contracted to write–as Tex Burns–four Hopalong Cassidy novels in the restrictive style of Clarence Mulford, Hopalong’s deceased creator. In 1950, LaMoore, now calling himself Louis L’Amour, published Westward the Tide, his first Western novel. In 1952, Collier’s published his story “The Gift of Cochise.” From it, James Edward Grant created the screenplay for the 1953 film Hondo, starring John Wayne. L’Amour novelized the scenario into Hondo, published by Fawcett in 1953. It was a smashing success. L’Amour’s career was launched.

In the next four years, L’Amour published nine routine Westerns, two as Jim Mayo and all with accurate historical data as background but without necessary revisionary and editorial care. Still, they were popular successes. In 1956, L’Amour married Katherine Elizabeth Adams, a television actress twenty-six years his junior. Abandoning her career, Kathy became the mother of Beau Dearborn and Angelique Gabrielle.

In 1957, L’Amour published Sitka, a superb romantic historical novel about diplomatic, political, and commercial intrigues while the United States was obtaining Alaska from Russia. Having contracted to furnish Bantam Books two to three novels a year, L’Amour continued writing furiously, typing every morning before lunching with friends. Radigan was his first Western with Bantam, followed by two more which were equally unpromising. Then came The Daybreakers, the first of seventeen Sackett family novels.

L’Amour’s Sackett saga was his most ambitious project. Sackett’s Land follows the Hackett family from England in 1599 to the Carolinas. L’Amour planned more novels casting Sacketts from the American Revolution era into and past the Civil War. The family ultimately included more than fifty named characters, representing five succeeding generations, and spread from Tennessee to the Southwest, Mexico, and Canada.

Not content with one multivolume family saga, L’Amour also wrote about two other families. The first of five novels about Chantrys (generally scholars of Irish extraction) is North to the Rails. The earliest chronologically is Fair Blows the Wind, a swashbuckler story beginning in sixteenth century Ireland. The best of three novels about Talons (primarily builders) is Rivers West, concerning a Canadian-born carpenter’s adventures shortly after the Louisiana Purchase.

In 1974, at age sixty-six, L’Amour boldly announced plans for forty-plus novels interlocking Sacketts, Chantrys, and Talons as they pushed the frontier west. By then he had published only fourteen titles in his three-family mega-saga. He continued to write nonsaga novels and, with The Riders of Lost Creek, reintroduced cowboy Lance Kilkenny, first seen in Kilkenny and last seen in The Mountain Valley War. Moreover, Bendigo Shafter, a well-shaped blockbuster Western destined for classic status, dramatizes town-building Wyoming pioneers unconnected to previously mentioned families. With Comstock Lode, L’Amour continued his temporary escape from formulary and family fiction alike; here he brilliantly combines mining-field and San Francisco local-color touches with his hero’s vengeance quest. In The Lonesome Gods, L’Amour poignantly thickens complicated plotting with assorted American Indian myths and legends, including an evil Spaniard, a gigantic human, a wild stallion, a ghost, eerie footprints, and soaring eagles.

L’Amour’s most ambitious departures from the formulary are The Walking Drum, Last of the Breed, and The Haunted Mesa. The Walking Drum, which L’Amour did not live to make part of an intended trilogy, recounts a twelfth century superhero’s adventures across Europe, mainly in Moorish Spain, Russia, Constantinople, and the Seljuk Empire. Last of the Breed details a Sioux-Cheyenne U.S. Air Force pilot’s escape from villainous Cold War Soviet captors and his survival skills through Siberia to the Bering Strait. The Haunted Mesa, a spotty fantasy but another best-seller, concentrates on American Indian supernaturalism, with ancient Cliff Dwellers in what is now the Southwest’s Four Corners (where L’Amour developed two of his four lavish residences).

By 1975, Bantam reported more than forty million L’Amour books in print, a total exceeding those of John Steinbeck, previously its most fruitful money tree. In 1980, L’Amour celebrated one hundred million books in print. Figures soon more than doubled that total. In many years, avid readers were buying more than fifteen thousand L’Amour books every day. At least twenty-four L’Amour plots have been converted into film and television adaptations, the best being Hondo, Shalako (1968, starring Sean Connery and Brigitte Bardot), and The Sacketts (a 1979 television miniseries). In 1983, L’Amour heard that Carroll & Graf, fledgling publishers, were about to issue Law of the Desert Born and The Hills of Homicide, containing stories L’Amour had carelessly neglected to recopyright. He sued and settled out of court. Carroll & Graf not only published both collections but also, in 1986, Riding for the Brand and, as Man Riding West, the contents of Dutchman’s Flat.

In addition to several accolades by his peers, L’Amour was awarded by Congress a National Gold Medal (1982) and a Medal of Freedom (1984). Dozens of audiotape adaptations of L’Amour writings contributed to his multimillionaire status and, after his death from lung cancer in 1988, continued to enrich his wife, editor son, and actress daughter, who, together with his publisher, keep his novels in print and please the public with new assemblies of his half-forgotten short yarns. Despite the mediocrity of this early fiction, Louis L’Amour remains what he always defined himself as being–a natural-born teller of a thousand captivating stories.

BibliographyBold, Christine. Selling the Wild West: Popular Western Fiction, 1860 to 1960. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987. Locates L’Amour within the pop culture tradition.Gale, Robert L. Louis L’Amour: Revised Edition. New York: Twayne, 1992. A reliable biographical and critical source.Hall, Hal W. The Work of Louis L’Amour: An Annotated Bibliography and Guide. San Bernardino, Calif.: Borgo Press, 1991. Contains primary and secondary material.Hinds, Harold E., Jr. “Mexican and Mexican-American Images in the Western Novels of Louis L’Amour.” Southwestern American Literature 10 (Spring, 1985): 129-141. Examines L’Amour’s Mexican and Mexican American characters.Marsden, Michael T. “Louis L’Amour.” In Fifty Western Writers: A Bio-Bibliographical Sourcebook, edited by Fred Erisman and Richard W. Etulain. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1982. Discusses L’Amour’s main themes.Weinberg, Robert, ed. The Louis L’Amour Companion. Kansas City, Mo.: Andrews and McMeel, 1992. Annotated checklists of L’Amour’s publications, articles, letters, interviews, and several critical essays (some not previously published) concerning him.
Categories: Authors