If it hadn’t been for a John Wayne movie, we might not know the real name of one of the world’s most prolific Western writers.
Louis L’Amour worked as a miner, boxer, elephant handler, sailor, and fruit picker. Then, in the 1940s, he embarked on a writing career.
At first, he published short stories in Thrilling magazine. When L’Amour started writing Westerns, a publisher told him no one would read stories about cowboys written by someone named L’Amour.
Which is kind of funny, since L'Amour's birth name was LaMoore. He'd changed it when he started trying to make it in the literary world, first as a poet.
But, given the advice of that publisher, L’Amour wrote Westerns using the pen name Jim Mayo.
Then, in 1950, a publisher hired L’Amour to write four books about Hopalong Cassidy. For these, he used the name, Tex Burns.
The first novel L’Amour published under his name was Westward the Tide. But it was released, in 1950, only in England.
In 1952, though, L’Amour’s short story, “The Gift of Cochise,” was published in Collier’s magazine. Movie star John Wayne read it, purchased the rights from L’Amour, and turned the story into the 1953 film, “Hondo.” From that moment on, L’Amour published using his name.
L’Amour, born today in 1908 in Jamestown, ND, wrote more than 100 books, selling more than 225 million copies.
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