Bestselling novelist Larry McMurtry is born on this day in Wichita Falls, Texas. Many of his novels will be set in Texas and the West.
McMurtry was raised by his grandparents, first-generation pioneers who settled Archer City, Texas. McMurtry, who read nothing but drugstore paperbacks growing up, attended Rice University in Houston, where he became a voracious reader of literature. He later studied writing at Stanford.
McMurtry published his first novel, Horseman, Pass By (1961), at the age of 25. His 1966 novel, The Last Picture Show, explored the isolation of small-town society, and his 1975 novel, Terms of Endearment, became an award-winning movie in 1983. He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1986 for his bestseller Lonesome Dove (1985), about a cattle drive in the 19th century West.
In 1992, McMurtry had open-heart surgery and experienced a year or more of profound depression as he recovered in Tucson at the home of his companion and colleague, Diana Ossana. While struggling to overcome depression, he wrote Streets of Laredo, the sequel to Lonesome Dove. He has written roughly two dozen books. In the late 1990s, he began a massive attempt to turn Archer, Texas, into a haven for book lovers by buying abandoned buildings and filling them with hundreds of thousands of used books for sale.
In recent years, McMurtry has published a number of additional books and worked with Ossana to adapt the Annie Proulx short story Brokeback Mountain into a film. The duo won an Academy Award for their screenplay in 2006.