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The Essentials of English Literature

The following is a short list, featuring twenty-one authors of traditional Western fiction, whom you would commonly find on any list of Western "classics" or "essentials." A list of the "best" authors in any category has to be considered subjective under the best of circumstances. However, based on the criteria of which authors' works have continued to stand the "test of time," and whose works have remained relevant to contemporary readers, the twenty authors listed here are a good place to start, either for significant individual contributions or for their entire bodies of work.

In addition to twenty-one prolific and iconic authors, we also list Owen Wister, whose 1902 novel, The Virginian, is considered by many to have been the first serious Western novel, which lifted the genre out of the serialized "penny dreadfuls" and "dime novels" of the latter half othe 1800s. Fans and/or students of English Literature are also encouraged to check in with any of our librarians for additional recommendations!

classic. Among the best of a class, of the highest quality in a group...a work that endures. -- Harper Handbook to Literature

The author links in this booklist are to the complete listings of all materials in the Lincoln City Libraries' collections by these authors. The links connect directly to our library catalog, so that you may check on the current availability of titles. Covers shown below are relative samples of some of these authors' best-known works. Links are also included to the Wikipedia entries for authors (where possible) for biographical background, and to authors' official web sites for those authors still writing.

Owen Wister

[1860-1938]  [ Wikipedia entry for this author ]

The Virginian'

Max Brand

[1892-1944]  [ Wikipedia entry for this author ]  [ Official web site for this author ]

Collected Stories'  The Fugitive's Mission  The Lone Rider  Safety McTee  Train's Trust

Matt Braun

[1932-    ]  [ Wikipedia entry for this author ]  [ Official web site for this author ]

Bloody Hand'  The Gamblers  Jury of Six/Hangman's Creek  Rio Hondo  Wages of Sin

Don Coldsmith

[1926-2009]  [ Wikipedia entry for this author ]

Elk-Dog Heritage'  Follow the Wind  South Wind  Tallgrass  Trail From Taos

Ralph Compton

[1934-1998]  [ Wikipedia entry for this author ]

Across the Rio Colorado'  Bullet Creek  Dodge City Trail  North to the Bitterroot  Whiskey River

Ralph Cotton

[ Wikipedia entry for this author ]  [ Official web site for this author ]

Badlands'  Devil's Due  Hanging in Wild Wind  Killing Plain  Vengeance is a Bullet

Loren D. Estleman

[1952-    ]  [ Wikipedia entry for this author ]  [ Official web site for this author ]

Black Powder, White Smoke'  Bloody Season  Murdock's Law  The Stranglers  White Desert

Zane Grey

[1872-1939]  [ Wikipedia entry for this author ]  [ Official web site for this author ]

The Last Trail'  Open Range  Riders of the Purple Sage  Shower of Gold  Wildfire

A.B. Guthrie Jr.

[1901-1991]  [ Wikipedia entry for this author ]

The Big Sky'  The Last Valley  Murders at Moon Dance  title  The Way West

Ernest Haycox

[1899-1950]  [ Wikipedia entry for this author ]

title  title  title  title'  title

Will Henry

[1912-1991]  [ Wikipedia entry for this author ]

Blind Canon'  Hunting of Tom Horn  Pitchfork Patrol  Who Rides With Wyatt  Winter Shadows

Ray Hogan

[1908-????]

Doomsday Marshal and the Comancheros'  A Gun for Silver Rose  The Hell Born  Skull Gold  Valley of the Wandering River

William W. Johnstone

[1938-2004]  [ Wikipedia entry for this author ]  [ Official web site for this author ]

Betrayal of the Mountain Man'  Brotherhood of the Gun  Deadwood Gulch  MacCallister: The Eagle's Legacy  Savage Texas

Cameron Judd

  [ Official web site for this author ]

Bad Day at Dry Creek'  Firefall  Kenton's Challenge  Outlaw Trail  War at Fire Creek

Elmer Kelton

[1926-2009]  [ Wikipedia entry for this author ]  [ Official web site for this author ]

Cloudy in the West'  Lone Star Rising  Ranger's Law  Sons of Texas  Stand Proud

Louis L'Amour

[1908-1988]  [ Wikipedia entry for this author ]  [ Official web site for this author ]

Daybreakers'  Hondo  Law of the Desert Born  Quick and the Dead  War Party

Elmore Leonard

[1925-    ]  [ Wikipedia entry for this author ]  [ Official web site for this author ]

The Bounty Hunters  Complete Western Stories'  Last Stand at Sabre River  Raylan  Three-Ten to Yuma and Other Stories

Wayne D. Overholser

[1906-1996]  [ Wikipedia entry for this author ]

title'  Gateway House  The Law at Miles City  Riders of the Sundowns  Wild Horse River

Luke Short

[1908-1975]  [ Wikipedia entry for this author ]

Blood on the Moon'  title  title  title  title

Cotton Smith

  [ Official web site for this author ]

Brothers of the Gun'  Death Mask  Death Rides a Red Horse  Ride for Rule Cordell  Sons of Thunder

Charles G. West

  [ Official web site for this author ]

Blackfoot Trail'  Death is the Hunter  The Lawless Prairie  Shootout at Broken Bow  Wings of the Hawk

Richard S. Wheeler

[1935-    ]  [ Wikipedia entry for this author ]  [ Official web site for this author ]

Bounty Trail'  Dark passage  From Hell to Midnight  North Star  Trouble in Tombstone

Compiled and Adapted for the Web February 2012 sdc

Looking for additional novels on this or other subjects? Try out the NoveList database!

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