Account Navigation

Account Navigation

Currency - All prices are in AUD

Currency - All prices are in AUD
 Loading... Please wait...
Sir Ks Books and Collectibles




Writers of the 20th Century: William MacLeod Raine, Westerner

Posted by Jack Neulist on

     In a career that spanned half a century, eighty published novels and dozens of short stories, William MacLeod Raine helped define the mythic West of film and fiction fame. Prolific, successful, and beloved, his works remain in print today. While not as well known as some of his contemporaries like Louis L’Amour and Ernest Haycox, Raine nevertheless was one of the greatest western authors of the 20th Century.

Nothing in his early years suggested that the fates had decreed for him a career writing about cowboys and desperados. Born in London, in 1871, Raine lived the first years of his life in the cramped and crowded streets of one of the world’s largest cities. His mother died before he reached the age of ten. His grief stricken father, desperate for a change of scenery, determined to come to America.

By the early 1880s, Raine’s father settled in Arkansas, where he operated a cattle ranch. It was here, amidst the cattle and dust of his father’s spread, that young Raine began his western education. He spent the rest of his childhood on the ranch.     

After graduating from Oberlin College, Raine headed west. It was an era in between eras. The old west was dying, the frontier dead, but the 20th century’s advance was still held up along the east banks of the Mississippi.

He wandered the west for a while, before settling in Denver, Colorado. Working part time as a journalist, Raine made ends meet by writing short stories. Publication followed, and he soon turned his hand to novels. His first attempts were romantic histories reminiscent of his English roots.

Raine had served a stint with the Arizona Rangers, whose endeavors were as dangerous and successful as those of their better known, Texas brethren. Inspired by his adventures, and finding English historicals a hard sell, he set out to write his first full length western.

Published in 1908, Wyoming: A Story of the Outdoor West was met with approval by critics and readers alike. It’s success launched him on a fifty year writing career. From 1909 to his death, he wrote an average of two novels a year. His childhood ranching, the time spent wandering the west, and his interlude with the Rangers made for excellent source material, and lent his stories an authenticity often lacking in Westerns of the period. This verisimilitude, his knack for writing page turners with galloping plots and fast shooting made for a winning combination.

After the rise of Hollywood in the 1920s, Raine’s work made the transition from page to silver screen. His short story, The Yukon Trail: A Tale of the North was adapted and released as a movie, The Grip of the Yukon. Over all, more than twenty of his works would make it to film, including screenplays for episodes of beloved TV western series like Colt .45

Raine died in Denver, July 25, 1954. In 1958, the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum posthumously inducted him into the Hall of Great Westerners. It was a well deserved honor. For William Macleod Raine embodied that dictum of great authors: write what you know. And he did. Rancher, wanderer, lawman, his boot heels pounded the same dust as the heroes he wrote.

Photo #1: William MacLeod Raine in his Denver office, circa 1950

Photo #2: Paperback editions of Raine's Westerns

Photo #3: Movie Poster from The Man From Bitter Ridge. The best known Hollywood adaptation of Raine's work.

Looking for titles by William MacLeod Raine? Click the banner below to browse our huge vintage Western selection!

  • westerns
  • vintage westerns
  • william macleod raine
  • louis l'amour
  • man from bitter ridge
  • grip of the yukon
  • cowboys
  • american west
  • frontier
  • pulp westerns
  • western writers
  • colorado writers
  • westerners

View Comments

Popular Library: Paperback Pioneers Part I

     There's a reason Popular Library is a perennial favorite with vintage paperback collectors. Some of the most popular titles and best known authors of the 20th century were published under the Popular Library imprint, but what really draws the collectors is the unique, sometimes lewd, usually risque, but always titillating art that graced their [...]

Read More »

Whitman Big and Better Little Books: An Introduction

     If you were born before 1960, it is almost a given that at some point in your childhood, you encountered a Big Little Book. Sturdy, affordable, and ubiquitous, many a kid wiled away many an hour immersed in their pages. Filled with some of the most beloved characters of the 20th Century – from Mickey Mouse to Spider [...]

Read More »

Pulp Magazines: A Short Introduction

THE GOLDEN AGE OF CHEAP THRILLS AND ESCAPISM!     Pulp magazines were the heart of American popular fiction for the first half of the 20th century, making them an integral, keystone part of American literary history. Sadly, they were made from the cheapest possible materials, never intended or expected to stand the test of time -- [...]

Read More »

Dell Mapbacks: A Short Introduction

It turns out, some books CAN be judged by their covers!      If I had to pick my favorite niche in the collectible vintage paperback market, I'd have to choose Dell's Mapback editions. While the sheer diversity of authors and genres in the series makes it hard to beat from a collector's standpoint, it's [...]

Read More »

Pseudonyms of Popular Authors from the Vintage Paperback Era

What's in a Name? A Lot if You're a Collector!One of the most challenging aspects of collecting vintage paperback books is coming to grips with the absolutely astounding number of titles out there. What to collect? For many of us, we pick certain authors, or series, and confine our acquisitions thus. The challenge is in [...]

Read More »