Louis L'Amour Additional Biography

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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(The entire section is 1052 words.)