James Crumley

Start Your Free Trial

Download James Crumley Study Guide

Subscribe Now


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

James Crumley was born in 1939 in Three Rivers, Texas, and was raised in south Texas, largely in the town of Santa Cruz. He attended the Georgia Institute of Technology on a Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps scholarship; however, in 1958 he dropped out of college and served a three-year tour in the United States Army. Like his character C. W. Sughrue, Crumley was reluctant to submit to military discipline and often found himself in conflict with his commanding officers. After his Army discharge, he attended Texas College of Arts and Industries on a football scholarship; despite taking time off occasionally to work, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in history in 1964. He then pursued a master of fine arts in creative writing in the writing program at the University of Iowa, where he worked with novelists such as Richard Yates and R. V. Cassell. His thesis was eventually published as One to Count Cadence, his first novel.

Crumley became a professor at the University of Montana in Missoula. However, when One to Count Cadence was well received, he left and held a series of writing professorships. From 1969 to 1984 he worked briefly for the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville; Colorado State University; Reed College in Portland, Oregon; Carnegie-Mellon; and the University of Texas at El Paso.

Crumley made the move to detective fiction after his friend, the poet and novelist Richard Hugo, loaned him several novels by hard-boiled detective novelist Raymond Chandler. Taken with Chandler’s ability to create a memorable character in brief strokes and his character Philip Marlowe’s adherence to a code of integrity, Crumley crafted his own detective novel, The Wrong Case (1975).

In 1975, Crumley married Judith Anne Ramsey. After divorcing her, he married Bronwyn Pughe in 1979, whom he later divorced. He had five children, three from his second marriage and two from his fourth...

(The entire section is 468 words.)