Larry McMurtry, ‘Lonesome Dove’ Author, Dies at 84

by Matthew Wilson

Westerns and the literary world have lost an influential figure. Larry McMurtry, the author of “Lonesome Dove” and other novels, has died. The novelist was 84-years-old.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, McMurtry’s representative confirmed the Texas native’s death. The author captivated audiences with his written work. Many of his books became the basis for well-received movies and miniseries as well.

Among McMurty’s crowning achievements were “Lonesome Dove,” “The Last Picture Show” and also “Terms of Endearment” as well. McMurty won an Academy Award for co-writing the adapted screenplay for “Brokeback Mountain” in 2005. That film followed a forbidden love story between two cowboys, who fell for each other. Starring the late Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal, it was critically acclaimed upon its release.

In total, McMurty wrote 29 novels during his lifetime in addition to more than 30 screenplays. He once said he wrote at least five pages of prose a day on his typewriter. McMurty captivated audiences with his novel “Lonesome Dove,” a rumination on getting older, life, and death on the frontier.

The book became an equally acclaimed miniseries starring Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones. For his work, McMurty won the Pulitzer Prize, the highest honor in writing.

Larry McMurtry and His Career

Born in Wichita Falls, Texas, on  June 3, 1936, McMurty grew up on a ranch for most of his life. He graduated from North Texas State College and set out to start a career as a novelist. His first novel came in 1961, called “Horseman, Pass By.” It explored a Texas ranching community and ended up becoming a movie starring Paul Newman called “Hud.”

McMurtry decided to try his hand at scriptwriting, adapting his own novel into the 1966 film “The Last Picture Show.” The movie and book was a semi-autobiographical look at his own life growing up in Texas. It was a coming of age story starring Jeff Bridges among others. For his work, McMurtry garnered an Academy Award nomination.

In addition to writing, McMurtry also started a chain of bookstores in Texas. In 2015, President Obama awarded him the National Humanities Medal.

McMurtry is survived by his wife Faye, who he married in 2011, and his song James McMurtry. His son James is a singer and songwriter. Fans will miss McMurtry’s gift for words and his ability to create captivating characters.