Top 10 western authors worth reading
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Top 8 Western Authors Worth Reading

Western writing in literature and motion pictures tells stories primarily set in the American Old West during the mid-eighteenth and late nineteenth centuries. The characters and settings play an essential part in defining the genre and fascinating the public, as it explores the American frontier and Wild West. The vivid portrayal of cowboys, Native Americans, and outlaws, depictions of wilderness, great plains, and deserts, and recurring themes of revenge and duels make Western fiction highly distinguishable among other forms of literature and genres.

Here is a list of notable Western authors who have popularized the action-packed fiction genre up to this day.

Louis L’amour

Western Author Louis L'amour

Louis Lamour is a famous American novelist and short-story writer known for his contributions to the Western fiction genre. Recognized as one of the world’s most renowned writers and bestselling authors, his Western novels and frontier stories like “Hondo” and more than forty-five others were eventually turned into a film. His notable work and writing style have soon won him the Congressional Gold Medal and the Medal of Freedom.

Cormac McCarthy

Western Author Cormac McCarthy

American writer, playwright, and screenwriter Cormac McCarthy gained popularity for his philosophical, dark, violent, and complex novels featuring Western, rural American South and Southwest characters and historical settings. His first novel, The Orchard Keeper, won him the Faulkner Award and the Rockefeller Foundation Grant. Among his other notable works were Suttree, Blood Meridian, and the Border Trilogy. Moreover, his critically acclaimed post-apocalyptic novel, The Road, won the Pulitzer Prize in 2007.

Elmore Leonard

Western Author Elmore Leonard

Elmore Leonard, American writer and recipient of numerous honors, including the PEN Lifetime Achievement Award (2009), had a classic career of writing Western novels and short stories before turning to mystery and crime fiction. His writing style involved realistic dialogues, effective use of violence, and unique characters. Some of his finest Western novels had movie adaptions, such as The Tall T, 3:10 to Yuma, Hombre, Valdez Is Coming, and Joe Kidd.

Zane Grey

One of the most prolific writers and best-selling authors of Western fiction novels, Zane Grey wrote more than 80 books throughout his lifetime. Recognized as the finest storyteller of the American West, his passion for writing about the American frontier was evident in his romance and adventure stories. A successful American author in the 1920s, his best-known book remains to be “Riders of the Purple Sage.”

Will Rogers

Will Rogers was a writer, entertainer, humorist, and film actor known for his performances, folksy wit, homespun humor, common sense attitude, and social commentary in the 1920s and 30s. Aside from working in Wild West shows, vaudeville, and Broadway, he was a nationally known author with writings that dealt with contemporary issues during his time. “Rogers-Isms: The Cowboy Philosopher on the Peace Conference” was one of his famous books.

Willa Cather

Will Cather was one of the most significant American novelists of the 20th century, noted for her depictions of frontier life on the American plains. She successfully breathed life into the landscape of her fiction through the portrayals of her characters, paying attention to the relationship between their personality and cultural environments. Her novels on frontier life, such as “One of Ours,” brought her national recognition and the Pulitzer Prize in 1923.

William Johnstone

William Johnstone was a well-renowned American author of western novels and other genres that included action, horror, science fiction, suspense. Since late 1979 when his first book, “The Devil’s Kiss,” was published, he has written over two hundred books with most of which have become best-sellers during his time. Among his popular novel series were the Ashes series and the Mountain Man series.

Ralph Compton

A musician, songwriter, radio announcer, and newspaper columnist—that’s what Ralph Compton was before becoming one of the best-selling American writers of Western fiction. “The Goodnight Trail” was his first novel, which was chosen as a finalist for the Western Writers of America “Medicine Pipe Bearer Award” for “Best Debut Novel.” Among his best-selling works was the Trail of the Gunfighter series and the Border Empire series.

17 thoughts on “Top 8 Western Authors Worth Reading

  1. Schillers

    Larry McMurtry? Edward Abbey? Thomas Savage? Oakley Hall?

    1. Mike

      Louis L amour?

  2. Jason Andrews

    I have a story that is stuck in my mind, and it has been taunting me for years, because I cannot find it. I’m looking for someone who may know where the story came from. It’s about a man who owns a ranch in the old west. He has a daughter that he loves. He also secretly runs a gang of outlaws on the other side of the mountain with a hidden trail that no one else knows that lets him return from holding up banks so fast that no one can believe that he could be involved. And the outlaw gang always strikes with one person in the gang wearing a strange costume, so that no one will remember any other gang member’s face. In the end, the outlaw wants to pull off one last heist, but his daughter is growing suspicious. And I can’t remember how it ends!! I always used to think it was a Louis L’amour story, but now I’m not sure. If you have ever read the story and have any idea where I could find it, I would be extremely grateful.

    1. paul

      Son of a Wanted Man Louis L’Amour.

    2. L Stone

      Try Goodreads…… What’s The Name of that Book?

    3. Dave Fritz

      Reply to Jason Andrews: that is one of the Zane Gray books, not Riders of the Purple Sage but a later one. Dave

    4. Pushkar Sirohi

      Son of a Wanted Man by Louis L Armour

    5. Richard

      Hello! Sounds a lot like a Zane Grey story I read. Will try to get the title!

    6. Gordon

      This is a Louis L’Amour story that I just finished reading. It was included in a compilation.

      The story was about a man who had been raised by the head of the criminal gang and was meant to take over the gang when the old fellow retired.

      The ending is not something that should be revealed for those who have not yet had the pleasure of reading the story.

  3. Carl Wirkkala

    Son of a wanted man by Louis lamour has a plot like that, You might check that out.

  4. godinielf

    “son of a wanted man” by Louis L’Amour

  5. Burt

    This is a terrible list. The author of this list may have done research, but I reckon he hasn’t actually read too many Western stories.

    1. David

      Certainly he doesn’t seem to have read any Elmer Kelton.

  6. Stanley Kay

    I am surprised that Wallace Stegner’s “Angle of Repose” is not on the list. Some call him “The Dean of Western Writers.” He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1972 and the U.S. National Book Award in 1977.

  7. Gregory Reed

    It’s a Zane Grey book, The Lone Star Ranger. Pretty good read.

  8. Gordon

    By the way, I appreciate this list as there are a few names on here that I had either forgotten or had not yet heard of.

    Thanks for doing this.

    For those replying in the negative. Why don’t you get off your lazy butts and create something better instead of spending your time whining?

    1. Kelly Girl


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