Zane Grey

Pearl Zane Grey

  • American

Greatest Storyteller of the American West

American author, notable for his writing of the American west. - AsNotedIn



Y/M/D Description Association Composition Place Locale Food Event
Y/M/D Description Association Composition Place Locale Food Event
Significant name Grey, Zane, Lodge Kohl's Ranch
Visitor Haught Cabin Payson, AZ
1872/01/31 Born Born Zanesville Ohio Zane Grey's Birthday
1905/00/00 Built Zane Grey House Lackawaxen
1910/00/00 The Heritage of the Desert is published Author
1912/00/00 "Riders of the Purple Sage" is published Harper and Brothers. Author
1920/00/00 Home bought by Zane Grey, third floor writing room added Zane Grey Estate Altadena
1925/00/00 Zane Grey builds a Pueblo style vacation home on Catalina Island Zane Grey House on Catalina Island Santa Catalina Island
1939/10/23 Zane Grey passes away in the master bedroom of his Altadena home with his family at his side Died Zane Grey Estate Altadena


Earned Western Author Zane Grey, the greatest storyteller of the American West, was born in Zanesville, Ohio, on January 31, 1872. Grey's ancestors had been vigorous, illustrious pioneers in America's First West. The historic Ohio Valley, and his boyhood thrill at their adventures would eventually motivate Grey to novelize both his family's own story and the stories of many other pioneer homesteaders. The farm wife, rancher, cowhand, naive Eastern belle, camp follower, miner, Indian youth, trail driver, railroad man, desperado, buffalo hunter, soldier, gambler, wanderer and poor wayfaring stranger, as the great migration Westward coursed in waves across the continent.

In his youth Zane Grey was a semiprofessional baseball player and a half-hearted dentist, having studied dentistry to appease his father while on a baseball scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania. But he wanted above all to write, and taught himself to write with much stern discipline so as to free his innate and immense storytelling capacity. Many lean years came and went as he waited for a publisher to finally recognize a best-seller when it saw one. Zane Grey became the best-selling Western author of all time, arid for most of the teens, 20s, and 30s, had at least one novel in the top ten every year.

His marriage in 1905 to Lina Roth, whom he called Dolly, was a triumph of the old-fashioned complementary model of matrimony, wherein the husband ranges freely to sustain the inspiration for his calling, in this case the writing of adventure-romances, while the wife tends the family, edits the manuscripts, and makes deals with the publishers. It is fair to say that Dolly's belief in Grey's calling was the single factor most responsible for the success of his lengthy career. Their first home was a farm house on 3 acres that Zane Grey bought before they were married, but the couple soon moved to a home on land her family owned on the Delaware River in Lackawaxen, Pennsylvania. The Greys had three children: Romer, Betty, and Loren. Romer and Betty were born in New York City while Loren was born in Middleton, NY.

The breakthrough success of his novel, Heritage of the Desert in 1910, enabled Zane Grey to establish his home in Altadena, a hunting lodge on the Mogollon Rim near Payson, Arizona and a Pueblo style vacation home on Catalina Island built in 1925. A lifelong passion for angling and the rich rewards of his writing also allowed Grey to roam the world's premier game-fishing grounds in his own schooner and reel in several deep-sea angling records, which stood for decades. A prodigiously prolific writer, Grey would spend several months each year gathering experiences and adventures, whether on safari in the wilds of Colorado or fishing off Tahiti, and then spend the rest of the year weaving them all into tales for serialization, magazine articles, or the annual novel.

After a very short stay in Los Angeles, Zane Grey acquired the property from the Woodward family in 1920. Almost immediately, word spread that Grey had moved to Altadena and he soon became a key figure in the city. However, with his newfound fame in Altadena came a lack of privacy. Documents and firsthand accounts from Grey's family indicate shortly after moving into the house Grey added the third floor writing studio to prevent people looking into the house to watch him work.

Zane Grey wrote to live and lived to write until his untimely death of heart failure on October 23, 1939. He passed away in the master bedroom of his Altadena home with his family at his side. When all the posthumous works were finally published, many years later, he wrote 90 novels, including 60 Westerns, 9 fishing novels, and 3 books tracing the fate of the Ohio Zanes. Among the rest are short story collections, a biography of the young George Washington, juvenile fiction and baseball stories. - NRHP, 9 September 2002

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