Louis L'Amour, a prolific author of Westerns with real-life drama bringing the West to his readers.
Born Louis Dearborn LaMoore on 22 March 1908 in North Dakota, youngest of seven to Dr. Louis Charles LaMoore and Emily LaMoore. The family moved to Choctaw, North Dakota in 1923. Louis was an avid reader from Victor Hugo to Dumas before he even read Zane Grey. The house was full of books and his older sister Edna was a librarian at the local library and Louis spent much of his time there reading history and archaeology.
Dropping out of school in the tenth grade he set off on adventures and jobs allowing him the men's to travel the world. He joined the circus, did fruit picking, gold prospecting, was a longshoreman, a boxer, a lumberjack, a miner, spent time bailing hay, and sailed on a merchant ship to faraway places like England, Japan, China, Egypt, and Panama. These experiences would serve him well in his writings.
Louis joined the service during WW II serving as a tank commander in France and when the war ended he returned home and realized he wanted to write. Bur first, he decided to change his name back to the French way, L'Amour. It wasn't easy earning a living writing and for quick cash, he started writing articles for pulp magazines and in 1952 one of his short stories appeared in Collier's Magazine. John Wayne happened to read it and bought the rights to it for $4000. That story was renamed HONDO starring John Wayne and filmed in Camargo, the Mexican desert with temperatures in the 120s. And Louis was on his way to his long career as an author of Westerns.
Louis was a self-made man with little formal education but with a life of experiences, capturing the hearts of his readers and bringing the West to the public.
Louis L'Amour's Illustrious Career
Louis wrote for his readers and not for literature acclaim as he was considered portraying his characters as rather cardboard and that Westerns were rather inferior to true writing yet Louis was outselling Steinbeck and Michener. He writes giving his readers authentic and believable characters. Louis would hike the mountains in Colorado and visit every place he wrote about. His ability to relate to people, their cultures, and habits were his assets in his novels.
In 1956, Louis married Katherine Elizabeth Adams and later they had two children, Beau born 1961, and Angeline born 1964. Louis and Katherine were together until his death in 1988. Katherine was a great asset for Louis and continued to keep his name alive after his death. Louis is buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park, #59, Glendale, Ca.
She tells the story of trying to get copies to publishers and agents when copies were very expensive. One day when Louis was typing on his manual typewriter, Katherine suggested renting an electric one and type ten copies at once. She was so impressed she insisted Louis try it out and he loved it as much as she did.
Louis was often asked about writing and he would answer "start writing, the water does not flow until the faucet is turned on. Write for your readers for writing is sharing.
Louis had a personal library of over 17,000 books, some rare and first editions, and maps of the West. His son, Beau remembers moving those books from place to place while his father typed away in the corner.
Awards and Honors for Louis L'Amour
- 1972 Honorary Ph.D. Jamestown College, North Dakota
- 1979 U.S. National Book Award for Bendigo Shafter
- 1982 Congressional Gold Medal
- 1982 U.S. Medal of Honor
- 1982 Rough Riders Award, located in the Dakota State Building
Some of L'Amour's Books, Movies
Louis L'AMour wrote over 100 novels, mostly Westerns, 0ver 200 short stories and articles, translated into over twenty languages. He was credited with bringing the West to the public.
A Few of his books:
- 1953 Hondo, starring John Wayne
- 1956 The Burning Hills
- 1959 The Sacketts, TV series, starring Sam Elliott and Tom Selleck
- 1971 Catlow
- 1973 The Man Called Noon
- 1982 The Shadow Rider
- 1987 The Quick and the Dead
- 1991 Conagher
- 2001 Crossfire Trail
The last book L'Amour wrote was Last of the Breed.
fran rooks (author) from Toledo, Ohio on December 24, 2020:
Alicia, thank you for reading. I appreciate it.
Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on December 23, 2020:
I’ve heard of Louis L’Amour, but I’ve never read any of his books. Thanks for sharing the interesting information about him, Fran.
fran rooks (author) from Toledo, Ohio on December 23, 2020:
MG, thanks for reading. I thought he was a great author, down to earth type of guy. Appreciate your comments.
MG Singh emge from Singapore on December 22, 2020:
It was wonderful reading about LouisL'amour. He wrote excellent books on the wild west and I read many of them. In my view, he probably doesn't match up to Zane Grey but in his own way, he wrote thrilling wild west books.
Readmikenow on December 22, 2020:
I've read many of his books. My favorite is "The Trail to Seven Pines." I liked the character Hopalong Cassidy.
Enjoyed reading this article.
fran rooks (author) from Toledo, Ohio on December 22, 2020:
Rosina, thanks for reading and I so agree with your comment about how it can encourage us too.
Rosina S Khan on December 22, 2020:
This is an interesting account of Louis L'amour, who although he was a high school dropout, made the most of his life. He went exploring parts of the world and served in the war. Then he wrote books based on his travel experiences and rose to fame. The journey of this author was worth sharing, Fran, because it encourages us too.