Larry McMurtry is an American writer who has written a series of novels and screenplays that is mainly set in the Old West or modern day Texas. He is a widely respected author who has been writing for more than 50 years. He has also achieved a huge following and has made notable contributions to American contemporary culture. Below are some of his most notable works and most visible achievements, which stretch back all the way to the 1960’s.
McMurtry was born in 1936 in Archer City, Texas, where he grew up on a ranch; this rustic setting helped define his later writings. He was born to William Jefferson McMurtry, a rancher, and his wife Hazel Ruth. Growing up, Larry had to perform many of the tasks necessary for running a ranch. Undoubtedly, this experience as a child helped in formulating many of the famous scenes in many of his novels and screenplays. As he got older he went to school and earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of North Texas in 1958 and then he received his Master’s degree at Rice University in 1960. He also studied under the famed novelist Wallace Stegner—a Pulitzer Prize and U.S. National Book Award winner—where he learned many writing techniques he would later go on to utilize in his own writing. On July 15, 1959 he married Josephine Ballard and the two had one son, James McMurtry, who would go on to be a respectable singer/songwriter in his own capacity. This he became, a remarkable person whose skills, talent and energy could be appreciated by the entire his fans.
McMurtry’s first and much acclaimed novel was entitled “Horseman, Pass By”, which was published in 1961. This novel was set in post-World War II Texas and centered on a young man by the name of Lonnie Bannon. A variety of terrible events plague the ranch in the story follows how Lonnie handles these events. The novel itself had an amazing story, with each character having play a greater role. It became an instant success as many readers found it very interesting. This novel won him the Jesse H Jones award, would be the first of many awards McMurtry would receive in his lifetime. The novel would later inspire a film called Hud that starred the famous actor Paul Newman. After the success of the book and the movie, McMurtry received the prestigious Guggenheim grant in 1964.
In 1975, Larry McMurtry publish the novel Terms of Endearment. This book became his biggest hit to date, and then the novel was adapted for the big screen in 1983. The movie, stored huge names like Jack Nicholson, Danny Devito, Jeff Daniels and Shirley McLaine, ended up being a huge success. The film received 11 Academy Award nominations and won 5 of those including Best Director (James L. Brooks), Best Writing, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress and Best Picture. It was an amazing time in Larry McMurtry’s life and propelled him into the highest echelons of stardom. Yes, he achieved it.
After the success of Terms of Endearment, McMurtry’s next major accomplishment was the 1985 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Lonesome Dove. To this day, this is the author’s most famous and widely acclaimed book. The book followed the exploits of retired Texas Rangers and their adventures herding cattle through America. The book was peppered with historical references and allusions to both people and places. The novel takes its name from the town in which two of the retired Rangers—Gus McCrae and Woodrow F. Call—start their journey north from Texas to Montana.
When he won the Pulitzer Prize, McMurtry was at the pinnacle of his writing career. The author ended up writing a series of four novels that followed the exploits of the heroes of the first book. The book proved to be so popular that they converted the series into a wildly popular TV miniseries starring Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones. This miniseries proved to be so popular, in fact, many credit the series for saving the entire television season in 1989. Also, as an interesting fact, the series was so influential that many Larry McMurtry imposters began to surface. Lonesome Dove and Robert Duvall ended up winning two Golden globes for Best Miniseries and Best Actor, respectively. This made McMurtry popular among readers, with many people drawing inspiration from him through his remarkable novels.
In 2006, Larry McMurtry struck gold again with a screenplay co-written with Diana Ossana called Brokeback Mountain. The movie, which depicts the complicated romantic relationship between two gay cowboys, would prove to be a stunning and groundbreaking success. Critics and fans alike praised the movie for its brave depiction of homosexuality in a traditional and conservative setting. The picture was directed by Taiwanese-born director Ang Lee and starred the late Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal. The movie arguably reaches a wider audience than any of McMurtry’s earlier work. Brokeback Mountain was not only a great movie, but it also broke barriers by depicting two huge stars as gay leads in a major movie. The film was showered with Academy Awards—it was nominated for 8 in total. It won Best Director, Best Original Score and Best Adapted Screenplay. Now, after more than 50 years writing novels, screenplays and essays, McMurtry could put an Academy Award next to his Pulitzer Prize.
McMurtry has worked on a number of projects and between his three major accomplishments. McMurtry is a consistent contributor to The New York Review of Books and has served as the president of PEN American Center, which is an organization to advance literature and freedom of expression. On April 29, 2011, McMurtry married his second wife Faye Kelsey and the two and most of their time down in Texas. All told, Larry McMurtry has had a remarkable writing career and will go down in history has one of the great American contemporary authors of our time. Many authors and novelists would kill to have the amazing success that McMurtry has had. He stuck with his particular genre, Western novels, and that proved to be an amazingly receptive audience for his work.Book Series In Order » Authors » Larry McMurtry