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McMurtry, Larry | University of Houston Libraries

Name: McMurtry, Larry


Historical Note:

Larry McMurtry is probably the most well-known writer to have emerged from Texas in the twentieth century, appealing to both critics and readers with his novels of the contemporary and historic American West. His trail-drive saga Lonesome Dove earned McMurtry the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1986, and many of his books have become national bestsellers. Lonesome Dove was turned into a highly-acclaimed television mini-series, and several of his novels have been made into films, most notably The Last Picture Show, which garnered McMurtry an Academy Award nomination for the screenplay, and Terms of Endearment.

Larry McMurtry was born in 1936, and grew up in Archer City, Texas, the son and the grandson of cattle ranchers. He completed his undergraduate studies at the North Texas State University, and received his M.A. in English from Rice University in 1960.

In 1961 he released his first novel, Horseman, Pass By. That novel and the two which followed, Leaving Cheyenne (1963) and The Last Picture Show (1966), were set in the imaginary town of Thalia, and explored small town life and the changes taking place in the rural West. Between 1963 and 1969, McMurtry also taught creative writing at Rice University.

In 1969 McMurtry moved to Washington D.C., where he became co-owner and operator of a rare book store called Booked Up. While living in Washington, he wrote three novels about turbulent relationships that were primarily set in Houston – Moving On (1970), All My Friends Are Going to Be Strangers (1972), and Terms of Endearment (1975). His next three novels are generally considered less successful, transitional novels.

1986’s Lonesome Dove was a departure for McMurtry, a rambling story set in the West of the 1870s. Since writing Lonesome Dove, he has been equally prolific in two types of book – contemporary novels such as Texasville (1987) and Evening Star (1992) which revisit characters from earlier works, and historically based novels like Anything for Billy (1988) and Buffalo Girls (1990) which tell the stories of legendary figures such as Billy the Kid and Calamity Jane. McMurtry has also released three more novels featuring characters from Lonesome Dove, the 1993 sequel Streets of Laredo, the 1996 prequel Dead Man’s Walk, and the 1997 prequel Comanche Moon. Like Lonesome Dove, these novels were made into television mini-series.

McMurtry has continued to write novels, with the latest from the Last Picture Show series, Rhino Ranch, being released in 2009. In 2005, McMurtry won the Academy Award for his screenplay of the movie Brokeback Mountain, which he co-wrote with Diana Ossana.

In addition to novels, McMurtry has also published books of essays, film criticism, short stories, and several volumes of memoirs. He has one son, James Lawrence, and currently lives in Archer City, Texas, where he owns a rare book store.

Sources: Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2010.
Note Author: Julie Grob and Valerie Prilop




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