February 26, 2010

Louis L’Amour—a cowboy’s western writer

By Molly Noble Bull

Louis L”Amour was born Louis Dearborn LaMoore on March 22, 1908 in Jamestown, North Dakota where he lived for the first fifteen years of his life. His father, Dr. Charles LaMoore, was a large animal veterinarian, giving Louis firsthand information on horses and cattle from a medical as well as a physical point of view, and Louis also met real cowboys as they travel through town. 

In his youth, Louis spent many hours reading and doing research at the local public library, giving him a love of books and perhaps the old west as well, and he later sold stories to pulp magazines. Then he sold dine westerns. He sold his first novel under another name, but his first published novel under his own name was titled, Westward the Tide, and published in 1951.

L’Amour’s short story, “The Gift of Cochise,” was printed in Colliers magazine in 1952, and John Wayne bought the movie rights for $4,000. However, Wayne changed the hero’s name for the movie from Ches Lane to Hondo Lane. The movie, Hondo, starring John Wayne is still available on video and DVD. But the movie versions of Hondo is somewhat different from L’Amour’s original story.  

 Two Men. One Woman. A Land That Demanded Courage—Or Death—was written on the back cover of Hondo by Louis L’Amour.

L’Amour died of lung cancer in 1988, but during his lifetime, he sold more than one hundred novels. My husband is a Louis L’Amour fan, and I could have chosen from any number of novels for this article. I chose Bendigo Shafter because the novel contained a touch of romance.

 The back cover of the novel states that Bendigo Shafter is the story of a man’s destiny, a woman’s love.  

Nobody describes the old west better than Louis L’Amour, and the research he did before writing his novels should be a lesson for us all.


Winter said...

I love Louis L'Amour. His books made me fall in love with the west and I've never let go. It's funny, other than my cousin, we were the only girls in our school to read L'Amour books.

Stephen & Janet Bly said...

Molly: Enjoyed your feature on Louis L'Amour. Steve has read all his books and drew much inspiration from them for his own.

Molly Noble Bull said...

Thanks for writing, Winter, Stephen and Janet.
I like books by Louis and Stephen and Terry Burns because they write like a cowboy.