ACADEME BLOG

Wister, Owen.  The Virginian: A Horseman of the Plains.  New York: Macmillan, 1902.

Born into an affluent Eastern family, Owen Wister had a varied and successful literary career, producing novels, short fiction, plays, poetry, essays, and nonfiction books.  Today, however, he is best known for one novel, The Virginian, which formalized the Wild West tales of the dime novels into a literary genre.  The novel has remained continuously in print since its initial publication.  By the time that Wister died in 1938, more than a million and a half hardcover copies had been sold.  Over the next half-century, another half-million hardcover copies were sold, in addition to several million copies in paperback.  The novel has been adapted to film four times, most notably as a 1929 vehicle for Gary Cooper.  Interestingly, although the novel was extremely popular among turn-of-the-century readers and seems very staid by today’s standards, in…

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