Zane Grey papers

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Zane Grey papers

Dates: bulk 1910-1970, approximately 1861-1995

Papers document Grey's personal life, career as an author, and fishing expeditions as well as materials about his wife Lina "Dolly" Grey and son Romer. It consists of correspondence, photographs, ephemera, and other materials. It includes materials created by Zane Grey Inc., the company built to administer the professional affairs of Zane Grey including financial records, contracts, and other materials pertaining to his career. It also includes substantial correspondence with Grey's agent and pioneering licensing innovator Stephen Slesinger. Dated approximately 1861-1995.

  • Extent: 1 oversize folder (0.1 linear ft.). -- 37 boxes (18.5 linear ft.). -- 1 carton (1linear ft.). -- 12 oversize boxes (11 linear ft.). -- 1 film reel (0.1 linear ft.). -- 2 half boxes (0.5 linear ft.)
  • Creator: Grey, Zane, 1872-1939
  • Call Number: MSS 6081
  • Repository: L. Tom Perry Special Collections; Arts & Communications Archives; 1130 Harold B. Lee Library; Brigham Young University; Provo, Utah 84602;
  • Access Restrictions: Open for public research.
Languages and Scripts
Arranged into ten series: 1. Zane Grey personal papers, approximately 1900-1976. 2. Zane Grey business records, approximatley 1900-1995. 3. Zane Grey screenplays, 1923-1955. 4. Grey family real estate records, 1900-1981. 5. Lina Elise Grey papers, 1903-1953. 6. Loren Grey papers, 1918-1973. 7. Romer Grey papers, approximately 1920-1976. 8. Collection of manuscripts, approximately 1930-1950. 9. Zane Grey realia, approximately 1900-1976. 10. Zane Grey prints and photographs, approximately 1861-1980.
Conditions of Use
It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to publish material from Zane Grey papers must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Board of Curators.
Preferred Citation
Initial citation: MSS 6081; Zane Grey papers; Arts and Communications; L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University. Following citations: MSS 6081, LTPSC.
Custodial History
Components of the collection were purchased from Dan Brock, Lorne Hirsch, Brian Curtis, and Rosejane Rudicel between 2007 and 2009.
Acquisition Information
Purchased; Dan Brock; 2007. Purchased; Lorne Hirsch; 2008. Purchased; Brian Curtis; 2009. Purchased; Rosejane Rudicel; 2009.
Separated Material
Books and pamphlets acquired with the collection have been removed and transferred to the print collection.
Related Material
See also MSS 8277 Claire Wilhelm collection on Zane Grey and MSS 8316 Zane Grey papers.
Subject Terms
Grey, Zane, 1872-1939--Archives; American literature; Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences; Frontier and pioneer life; Literature; Novelists, American--Archives; Western films
Genre / Form
Letters; Novels; Photographs; Printed ephemera; Western stories
Processing Information
Processed; Elizabeth West; December 2008. Processed; Elizabeth West; December 2011. Processed; Elizabeth Barrus; May 2013. Processed; Elizabeth Barrus; November 2013.
Appraisal Information
Prominent author (Arts & Communications Archives Collecting Policy, 2010).
Finding Aid ID Number
Finding Aid Title
Grey (Zane) papers
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Elizabeth West
Finding Aid Creator
This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit 2014-05-11T04:30-0600
Finding Aid Language
Biographical Info:

Biographical History

Zane Grey (1872-1939) was one of the world's most prominent and prolific writers of Western novels.

Pearl Zane Gray was born January 31, 1872, in his ancestral home of Zanesville, Ohio. The fourth of five children born to Lewis M. Gray, a dentist, and Josephine Alice Zane, his was an active boyhood marked by attendance at local schools and participation in many boyhood activities of which fishing and baseball were his favorites.

After serving an apprenticeship with his father, he entered dental school at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia in 1892. Although he was acclaimed for his success as an outstanding shortstop on the school's baseball team, his academic performance was only average. He graduated in 1896, and while practicing dentistry in New York City continued to play baseball with the Athletic Club in East Orange, New Jersey.

In 1900 he met his future wife, editor, and life-long source of encouragement, Lina Elise Roth, known as Dolly. During their five year courtship Gray changed his name to Zane Grey (dropping his first name and changing the spelling of his last), gave up his dental practice, and began a career as an author. After receiving many rejections by publishers, on his own he published his first book, entitled Betty Zane (1903). He and Dolly were married the following year, making their first home in Lackawaxen, Pennsylvania.

Grey's attention was drawn west to the geographic area which would provide the setting for most of his major books when he met Charles Jesse ("Buffalo") Jones in 1906. An older hunter who had set out to preserve and breed buffalo which were in danger of extinction, Jones took Grey to the American Southwest for the purpose of having Grey write a book about his life. For weeks Grey lived the life of a Westerner in the deserts of Arizona and Utah. Upon returning to the East fired by his experiences, he expressed his sentiments in The Last of the Plainsmen, a book about Jones. In 1910 he published Heritage of the Desert and in 1912 Riders of the Purple Sage. These two books were his first major successes in literature and the ones by which he established his national reputation as an author. Riders of the Purple Sage was enormously successful and is his best known and probably his best loved work.

His greatest sustained success, wealth, and fame came after he, Dolly, and their three children (Romer, Betty, and Lore) moved to Altadena, California, in 1918. Included among his works published during this time were To the Last Man, Tappan's Burro, Forlorn River, The Shepherd of Guadaloupe, Robbers' Roost, and The Trail Driver. By 1930 he was hailed as the most sought after writer in America. (For a useful and virtually complete list of his books and other writings, see the bibliography on pages 250-273 of Frank Gruber's biography of Grey).

When he was not writing, Grey took lengthy trips to such places as New Zealand, Australia, and Tahiti, where he set world records with his deep sea fishing catches (at one time he held ten world records) and where he had many of the experiences that later served as the basis for some of his writing. He enjoyed hunting and exploring as well, and these activities also found expression in his sports and adventure stories, written for both juvenile and adult readers.

Zane Grey died October 23, 1939, in Altadena, California. During his lifetime he sold nearly 20 million copies of his novels, and another 20 million have been sold posthumously. Before his death he published 40 western romances in addition to works for juveniles, and collections of short stories and books on his adventures as a hunter, explorer, and fisherman. Since his death another 23 of his books have been published. Desert Gold, The Rainbow Trail, The Border Legion, To The Last Man, The Shepherd of Guadaloupe, Robbers' Roost, The Trail Driver, Twin Sombreros, Ride the Man Down, Lost Pueblo, and Boulder Dam; and the novelettes Tappan's Burro, Don The Ranger, Canyon Walls From Missouri, and The Horse Thief.

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Ben Harry
Curator - Arts & Communications Archives