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Larry Jeff McMurtry (born June 3, 1936) is an American novelist, essayist, bookseller, and screenwriter whose work is predominantly set in either the Old West or in contemporary Texas.[1] His novels include Horseman, Pass By (1962), The Last Picture Show (1966), and Terms of Endearment (1975), which were adapted into films earning a total of 26 Oscar nominations (10 wins).

His 1985 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Lonesome Dove, was adapted into a television miniseries that earned 18 Emmy Award nominations (seven wins). The subsequent three novels in his Lonesome Dove series were adapted as three more miniseries, earning eight more Emmy nominations. McMurtry and cowriter Diana Ossana adapted the screenplay for Brokeback Mountain (2005), which earned eight Academy Award nominations with three wins, including McMurtry and Ossana for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Early life

McMurtry was born in Archer City, Texas, 25 miles from Wichita Falls, Texas, the son of Hazel Ruth (née McIver) and William Jefferson McMurtry, who was a rancher.[2] He grew up on a ranch outside Archer City. The city was the model for the town of Thalia which is a setting for much of his fiction. He earned degrees from the University of North Texas (B.A. 1958) and Rice University (M.A. 1960).

In his memoir, McMurtry says that during his first five or six years in his grandfather's ranch house, there were no books, but his extended family would sit on the front porch every night and tell stories. In 1942, when his cousin Robert Hilburn was on his way to enlist for World War II, he stopped by the ranch house and left a box containing 19 books. McMurtry then began to read. The books were standard boys' adventure tales of the 1930s, and he read them to tatters. The first book he read was Sergeant Silk: The Prairie Scout.[3]

Career

Writer

During the 1960–1961 academic year, McMurtry was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at the Stanford University Creative Writing Center, where he studied the craft of fiction under Frank O'Connor and Malcolm Cowley, alongside other aspiring writers, including Ken Kesey, Peter S. Beagle, and Gurney Norman. Stegner was on sabbatical in Europe during McMurtry's fellowship year.

McMurtry and Kesey remained friends after McMurtry left California and returned to Texas to take a year-long composition instructorship at Texas Christian University. In 1963, he returned to Rice University, where he served as a lecturer in English until 1969. He entertained some of his early students with accounts of Hollywood and the filming of Hud, for which he was consulting. In 1964, Kesey and his Merry Pranksters conducted their noted cross-country trip, stopping at McMurtry's home in Houston. The adventure in the day-glo-painted school bus Furthur was chronicled by Tom Wolfe in his book, Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Lonesome Dove, was adapted into a television miniseries that earned 18 Emmy Award nominations (seven wins). The subsequent three novels in his Lonesome Dove series were adapted as three more miniseries, earning eight more Emmy nominations. McMurtry and cowriter Diana Ossana adapted the screenplay for Brokeback Mountain (2005), which earned eight Academy Award nominations with three wins, including McMurtry and Ossana for Best Adapted Screenplay.

McMurtry was born in Archer City, Texas, 25 miles from Wichita Falls, Texas, the son of Hazel Ruth (née McIver) and William Jefferson McMurtry, who was a rancher.[2] He grew up on a ranch outside Archer City. The city was the model for the town of Thalia which is a setting for much of his fiction. He earned degrees from the University of North Texas (B.A. 1958) and Rice University (M.A. 1960).

In his memoir, McMurtry says that during his first five or six years in his grandfather's ranch house, there were no books, but his extended family would sit on the front porch every night and tell stories. In 1942, when his cousin Robert Hilburn was on his way to enlist for World War II, he stopped by the ranch house and left a box containing 19 books. McMurtry then began to read. The books were standard boys' adventure tales of the 1930s, and he read them to tatters. The first book he read was Sergeant Silk: The Prairie Scout.[3]

Career

Writer

During the 1960–1961 academic year, McMurtry was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at the Stanford University Creative Writing Center, where he studied the craft of fiction under Frank O'Connor and Malcolm Cowley, alongside other aspiring writers, including Ken Kesey, Peter S. Beagle, and Gurney Norman. Stegner was on sabbatical in Europe during McMurtry's fellowship year.

McMurtry and Kesey remained friends after McMurtry left California and returned to Texas to take a year-long composition instructorship at Texas Christian University. In 1963, he returned to Rice University, where he served as a lecturer in English until 1969. He entertained some of his early students with accounts of Hollywood and the filming of Hud, for which he was consulting. In 1964, Kesey and his Merry Pranksters conducted their noted cross-country trip, stopping at McMurtry's home in Houston. The adventure in the day-glo-painted school bus Furthur was chronicled by Tom Wolfe in his book, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.

That same year, McMurtry was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. McMurtry has also won the Jesse H. Jones Award from the Texas Institute of Letters on three occasions: in 1962, for Horseman, Pass By; in 1967, for The Last Picture Show, which he shared with Tom Pendleton's The Iron Orchard; and in 1986, for Lonesome Dove. He has also won the Amon G. Carter award for periodical prose in 1966, for Texas: Good Times Gone or Here Again?.[4][5] In 1986, McMurtry received the Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award. The Helmerich Award is presented annually by the Tulsa Library Trust.

McMurtry described his method for writing novels in Books: A Memoir<

In his memoir, McMurtry says that during his first five or six years in his grandfather's ranch house, there were no books, but his extended family would sit on the front porch every night and tell stories. In 1942, when his cousin Robert Hilburn was on his way to enlist for World War II, he stopped by the ranch house and left a box containing 19 books. McMurtry then began to read. The books were standard boys' adventure tales of the 1930s, and he read them to tatters. The first book he read was Sergeant Silk: The Prairie Scout.[3]

During the 1960–1961 academic year, McMurtry was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at the Stanford University Creative Writing Center, where he studied the craft of fiction under Frank O'Connor and Malcolm Cowley, alongside other aspiring writers, including Ken Kesey, Peter S. Beagle, and Gurney Norman. Stegner was on sabbatical in Europe during McMurtry's fellowship year.

McMurtry and Kesey remained friends after McMurtry left California and returned to Texas to take a year-long composition instructorship at Texas Christian University. In 1963, he returned to Rice University, where he served as a lecturer in English until 1969. He entertained some of his early students with accounts of Hollywood and the filming of Hud, for which he was consulting. In 1964, Kesey and his McMurtry and Kesey remained friends after McMurtry left California and returned to Texas to take a year-long composition instructorship at Texas Christian University. In 1963, he returned to Rice University, where he served as a lecturer in English until 1969. He entertained some of his early students with accounts of Hollywood and the filming of Hud, for which he was consulting. In 1964, Kesey and his Merry Pranksters conducted their noted cross-country trip, stopping at McMurtry's home in Houston. The adventure in the day-glo-painted school bus Furthur was chronicled by Tom Wolfe in his book, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.

That same year, McMurtry was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. McMurtry has also won the Jesse H. Jones Award from the Texas Institute of Letters on three occasions: in 1962, for Horseman, Pass By; in 1967, for The Last Picture Show, which he shared with Tom Pendleton's The Iron Orchard; and in 1986, for Lonesome Dove. He has also won the Amon G. Carter award for periodical prose in 1966, for Texas: Good Times Gone or Here Again?.[4][5] In 1986, McMurtry received the Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award. The Helmerich Award is presented annually by the Tulsa Library Trust.

McMurtry described his method for writing novels in Books: A Memoir. He says that from his first novel on, he would get up early and dash off five pages of narrative. When he published the memoir in 2008, he said this was still his method, although by then, he wrote 10 pages a day. He also writes every day, ignoring holidays and weekends.[6]

McMurtry has been a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books.[7] He has served as president of PEN.[8][9][10]

While at Stanford, McMurtry became a rare-book scout. During his years in Houston, he managed a book store called the Bookman. In 1969, he moved to the Washington, DC, area. In 1970 with two partners, he started a bookshop in Georgetown which he named Booked Up. In 1988, he opened another Booked Up in Archer City. It became one of the largest used bookstores in the United States, carrying between 400,000 and 450,000 titles. Citing economic pressures from internet bookselling, McMurtry came close to shutting down the Archer City store in 2005, but chose to keep it open after great public support.

In early 2012, McMurtry decided to downsize and sell off the greater portion of his inventory. He felt the collection was a liability for his heirs.[11] The auction was conducted on August 10 and 11, 2012, and was overseen by Addison and Sarova Auctioneers of [11] The auction was conducted on August 10 and 11, 2012, and was overseen by Addison and Sarova Auctioneers of Macon, Georgia. This epic book auction sold books by the shelf, and was billed as "The Last Booksale," in keeping with the title of McMurtry's The Last Picture Show. Dealers, collectors, and gawkers came out en masse from all over the country to witness this historic auction. As stated by McMurtry on the weekend of the sale, "I've never seen that many people lined up in Archer City, and I'm sure I never will again."

McMurtry became well known for the film adaptations of his work, which were seen by many viewers, especially Hud (from the novel Horseman, Pass By), starring Paul Newman and Patricia Neal; the Peter Bogdanovich–directed The Last Picture Show; James L. Brooks's Terms of Endearment, which won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture (1984); and Lonesome Dove, which became a popular television miniseries starring Tommy Lee Jones and Robert Duvall.

In 2006, he was co-winner (with Diana Ossana) of both the Best Screenplay Golden Globe and the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for Brokeback Mountain, adapted from a short story by E. Annie Proulx. He accepted his Oscar while wearing a dinner jacket over jeans and cowboy boots. In his speech, he promoted books, reminding the audience the movie was developed from a short story. In his Golden Globe acceptance speech, he paid tribute to his Swiss-made Hermes 3000 typewriter.

Writing style

Michael Korda, McMurtry's long-time publisher at Simon & Schuster described McMurtry's writing style,

"Though in later years I sometimes jokingly referred to McMurtry as 'the Flaubert of the Plains', he was already an unusual phenomenon in American writing. He came out of the gate (to use the rodeo terminology) with a remarkable ability to write about women and an absolutely sure eye for the bleak landscape of small-town Texas and the isolated ranches of the Panhandle, as well as the history of the West....He came with a perfectly developed sense of place, which gave all his fiction a deep, solid bedrock, but he was able to put women in a landscape as no other Western writer ever has, and he did it in his very first novel with the sure touch of a mature artist."[12]

Personal life

He married Jo Scott, who is an English professor

In 2006, he was co-winner (with Diana Ossana) of both the Best Screenplay Golden Globe and the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for Brokeback Mountain, adapted from a short story by E. Annie Proulx. He accepted his Oscar while wearing a dinner jacket over jeans and cowboy boots. In his speech, he promoted books, reminding the audience the movie was developed from a short story. In his Golden Globe acceptance speech, he paid tribute to his Swiss-made Hermes 3000 typewriter.

Michael Korda, McMurtry's long-time publisher at Simon & Schuster described McMurtry's writing style,

"Though in later years I sometimes jokingly referred to McMurtry as 'the Flaubert of the Plains', he was already an unusual phenomenon in American writing. He came out of the gate (to use the rodeo terminology) with a remarkable ability to wri

"Though in later years I sometimes jokingly referred to McMurtry as 'the Flaubert of the Plains', he was already an unusual phenomenon in American writing. He came out of the gate (to use the rodeo terminology) with a remarkable ability to write about women and an absolutely sure eye for the bleak landscape of small-town Texas and the isolated ranches of the Panhandle, as well as the history of the West....He came with a perfectly developed sense of place, which gave all his fiction a deep, solid bedrock, but he was able to put women in a landscape as no other Western writer ever has, and he did it in his very first novel with the sure touch of a mature artist."[12]

He married Jo Scott, who is an English professor, and has written five books. They had a son together before divorce, James McMurtry. He and grandson Curtis McMurtry are both singer/songwriters and guitarists.

In 1991 McMurtry underwent heart surgery.[13] During his recovery, he suffered severe depression. He wrote the novel Streets of Laredo during this period.[14]

In 1991 McMurtry underwent heart surgery.[13] During his recovery, he suffered severe depression. He wrote the novel Streets of Laredo during this period.[14]

McMurtry married Norma Faye Kesey, the widow of writer Ken Kesey, on April 29, 2011 in a civil ceremony in Archer City.[15]

[citation needed]

Standalone novels

The books follow the story of mother/daughter characters Harmony and Pepper

  • 1983: The Desert Rose
  • 1995: The Late Child

Duane Moore series

The books follow the story of character Duane Moore