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Zane Grey—A Short BiographyShop the Collection
   Written by Marian Kester Coombs for the Zane Grey West Society and Zane Grey Collections.
Zane Grey, the greatest and most prolific storyteller of the American West, was born in Zanesville, Ohio, on January 31, 1872. In his youth, Zane was a semi-professional Zane Greybaseball player and a half-hearted dentist, having studied dentistry to appease his father while on a baseball scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania. He wanted above all to write and taught himself to do so with stern discipline to free his innate and immense storytelling capacity.

Many a lean year came and went as he searched for a publisher, but Zane soon became the best-selling Western author of all time as well as the best selling author of non-fiction fishing novels. For most of the teens, 20s, and 30s, Zane had at least one novel in the top ten every year.

His marriage in 1905 to Lina Roth, whom he called Dolly, was a triumph of the old-fashioned, “complimentary” model of matrimony, wherein the husband ranges freely to sustain the inspiration for his calling and the wife tends to the family, edits the manuscripts and makes deals with the publishers. It is fair to say that Dolly’s belief in Zane’s literaZane Greyry works was the single factor most responsible for the success of his lengthy career. Zane and Dolly had three children, Romer, Betty and Loren.

Zane’s breakthrough success of Heritage of the Desert in 1910 enabled him to establish a home in Altadena, California and a hunting lodge on the Mogollon Rim near Payson, Arizona. A lifelong passion for angling and the rich rewards of his writing also allowed him to roam the world’s premier game-fishing grounds in his own schooners where he set thirteen deep-sea angling records, most of which stood for decades.

Zane would develop and invent tackle still being used today and his exploits in fishing would gain him recognition as the “Father of Modern Big Game Fishing”.
While in Tahiti, Zane captured the “Greatest Marlin of all Zane GreyTime”, the first game fish to exceed 1,000 pounds. He would later write of this great fish and the legendary battle in his novel of the South Seas named Tales of Tahitian Waters.

A prolific writer, Zane would spend several months each year gathering experiences and adventures, whether on “safari” in the wilds of Colorado or fishing off Tahiti and then spend the rest of the year weaving them all into tales for serialization, magazine articles or an annual novel.

Zane Grey wrote to live and lived to fish—surely a balance rarely attained—until his untimely death at age 67 of heart failure on October 23, 1939. Zane had become the most prolific writer and the most sought after sportswriter of fishing around the globe. His articles on fishing were always anxiously anticipated Zane Greyby his readers and when a Zane Grey fishing story came out, it usually sold out fast. In short, Zane Grey was an icon to most all who fished. He left us almost 90 books in print, of which about 60 are Westerns. Nine are incredible non-fiction fishing titles starting in 1919 with Tales of Fishes to his last in 1936, Tales of an American Angler in Australia.

Zane’s legacy is still alive as Zane Grey Collections announces yet another epic novel. This recently found treasure is a complete 200-plus page fishing manuscript from 1921-1926 titled Tales of The Gladiator. This previously unpublished work is now available to the public and is fully illustrated with 40 photographs taken by the author himself and seven original illustrations by marine artist Steve Goione. Within the pages of this magnificent novel, readers of Zane Grey today will feel the same spell of adventure, character, natural beauty and uniquely American idealism as did his readers more than half a century ago.