Study Guide

Louis L'Amour

Louis L'Amour Biography

Biography (Masterpieces of American Literature)

ph_0111201234-Lamour.jpgLouis L’Amour Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Louis Dearborn LaMoore was born in Jamestown, North Dakota, into a pioneer family of English, Irish, French, and Canadian stock. He was the seventh and youngest child of Louis Charles LaMoore and Emily Dearborn LaMoore. His father was a veterinarian, a farm-implements mechanic, a police chief, a civil and political leader, and a Sunday school teacher. He instructed his sons in Western lore, in animal husbandry, and in boxing and was a living example to them of the virtues of hard work—as was L’Amour’s mother. Her father had been a Civil War veteran and an Indian fighter before his marriage. Emily Dearborn trained to become a teacher but married Louis Charles LaMoore instead, in 1892. She is remembered as quiet, fond of gardening and reading, and a captivating storyteller.

Louis L’Amour (as he called himself from the 1940’s) enjoyed a Tom Sawyer-like boyhood combining outdoor freedom and voracious reading. When his parents moved to Oklahoma in 1923, young Louis, feeling that school was interfering with his education (as he often put it later), lit out on his own for what he called his knockabout years. He held a variety of jobs that were indirectly educational and which, as he often said, were grist for his writing mill. He was a cattle skinner, migrant farm worker, professional boxer, circus roustabout, lumberjack, miner, longshoreman, sailor, and friend of bandits in China and Tibet. Much later, he became a book reviewer back in Oklahoma, a lecturer, and a neophyte author of many action stories as well as a little poetry (published in book form in 1939). Entering the U.S. Army in 1942, he served in tank-destroying and transportation units fighting in World War II in France and Germany.

The year 1946 found L’Amour in Los Angeles, determined to write for a living. By that time he had published much short fiction in pulp and slick magazines—mostly mediocre yarns about sailors and detectives, in addition to cowboys. In 1950 his first novel, Westward the Tide, was published in London but went unnoticed. On July 5, 1952, a turning point in his life came when Collier’s published one of his short stories. Called “The Gift of Cochise” (reprinted in a 1975 collection of short stories titled War Party), it formed the basis for his Western classic Hondo (1953).

Beginning in 1953, L’Amour was under contract with Fawcett for a novel a year. A few years later he signed with Bantam Books for...

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Louis L'Amour Biography (Masterpieces of American Literature)

L’Amour’s fiction has been extremely popular: His novels have far outsold those of all competitors in his main field, that of Western fiction. He was above all a storyteller, nothing less than a latter-day, frontier troubadour. He dramatized the value of the solid, old-fashioned American virtues—love of nature, self-reliance, and never-say-die patriotism. His stories present rugged heroes challenged by the elements, overcoming dangers, rescuing the less fortunate, dispensing two-fisted justice, and respecting and guarding conservative family values.

Louis L'Amour Biography (Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Louis L’Amour was born Louis Dearborn LaMoore in Jamestown, North Dakota, on March 22, 1908, into a rugged, French-Irish pioneering family. His father, Louis Charles (L. C.) LaMoore, reared by his paternal grandparents in Ontario, was a veterinarian, a Jamestown police chief, and a civic leader. The novelist’s mother, Emily, whose father was a American Civil War veteran and an Indian fighter, attended the normal school at St. Cloud, Minnesota, and married L. C. LaMoore in 1892. Louis was the youngest of the couple’s seven children, four of whom survived to distinguished maturity.

After a healthy early boyhood of outdoor activity and voracious reading, L’Amour moved in 1923 with his family to Oklahoma but soon struck out on his own. An incredible sequence of knockabout jobs followed: sailor, longshoreman, lumberjack, boxer, circus worker, cattle skinner, fruit picker, hay shocker, miner, friend of bandits in China, book reviewer in Oklahoma, lecturer there and in Texas, neophyte writer, and a U.S. Army tank-destroyer and transportation officer in World War II in France and Germany.

In 1946, L’Amour decided to move to Los Angeles, and he became a professional writer. Some of his short-story pulps and slicks into the mid-1950’s were under the pen names Tex Burns and Jim Mayo. A turning point for L’Amour came with the publication of “The Gift of Cochise” in Collier’s, the story that formed the basis for Hondo...

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Louis L'Amour Biography (Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Louis L’Amour (lah-MOHR), a best-selling American author of Western and frontier fiction, was born Louis Dearborn LaMoore. His father was a veterinarian, chief of police, and farm-machinery salesman. His mother wanted to be a teacher and poet but became a devoted mother of seven. Louis was the youngest.{$S[A]LaMoore, Louis Dearborn;L’Amour, Louis}{$S[A]Burns, Tex;L’Amour, Louis}{$S[A]Mayo, Jim;L’Amour, Louis}

Although he relished reading, LaMoore quit school in 1923. He became a cattle skinner in Texas, a farmer in New Mexico, a circus hand and performer, boxer, and sailor. In 1935, he sold a story to True Gang Life and in 1939 published (the possibly self-financed) Smoke from This Altar, a collection of his poetry. He served in the U.S. Army from 1942 to 1946, part of the time in France and Germany in transportation and the tank-destroyer corps.

Early in 1946, LaMoore settled in Los Angeles. He wrote detective, action, and Western fiction as Jim Mayo for pulp magazines, and contracted to write—as Tex Burns—four Hopalong Cassidy novels in the restrictive style of Clarence Mulford, Hopalong’s deceased creator. In 1950, LaMoore, now calling himself Louis L’Amour, published Westward the Tide, his first Western novel. In 1952, Collier’s published his story “The Gift of Cochise.” From it, James Edward Grant created the screenplay for the 1953 film Hondo, starring John Wayne. L’Amour novelized the scenario into Hondo, published by Fawcett in 1953. It was a smashing success. L’Amour’s career was launched.

In the next four years, L’Amour published nine routine Westerns, two as Jim Mayo and all with accurate historical data as background but without necessary revisionary and editorial care. Still, they were popular successes. In 1956, L’Amour married Katherine Elizabeth Adams, a television actress twenty-six years his junior. Abandoning her career, Kathy became the mother of Beau Dearborn and Angelique Gabrielle.

In 1957, L’Amour published Sitka, a superb romantic historical novel about diplomatic, political, and commercial intrigues while the United States was obtaining Alaska from Russia. Having contracted to furnish Bantam Books two to three novels a year, L’Amour continued writing furiously, typing every morning before lunching with friends. Radigan was his first Western with Bantam, followed by two more which were equally unpromising. Then came The Daybreakers, the first of seventeen Sackett family novels.

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