The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

July 14, 2013

July 14, 1860

Owen Wister (July 14, 1860 to  July 21, 1938) is called the "father" of western fiction. He came from a wealthy Pennsylvania family. His grandmother was Fanny Kemble, whose Journal of a Residence on a Georgian Plantation in 1838-1839. (1863) describes life on plantations based on a slave economy, including one on St. Simon's Island, Georgia. It was thus that Owen Wister's mother, Sarah Wister, was a product of the southern planter class. Sarah Wister, we learn from the book, Owen Wister out west: his journals and letters (1958) kept white Persian cats, and named one of them Omar Khayyam.

Owen Wister graduated from Harvard, and his subsequent travels in the western United States, inspired his novel The Virginian, (1902), a model for cowboy drama that was quickly imitated. Not only was the life Wister described not one he personally experienced, the life of the cowboy, was one which for the United States as a whole, had ended. That anyway was the thesis Frederick Jackson Turner outlined in his 1893 scholarly paper: "The Significance of the Frontier in American History"  Turner postulated that the American frontier ended in 1890. Thus was the way cleared for the pioneer of fantasy. And a national identity formed.

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