In so many ways the outdoors can provide us with the greatest memories in the world. Whether it be the old family camping trips, a hike where you proposed to your spouse, the first fish you caught or stargazing under the night sky in fresh air there are so many reasons to celebrate being outside. The beauty alone of the outdoors will take some to extreme lengths possibly to see a rare sight or capture it for generations to come. A while back I had the Game Changers reoccurring blogs, all about those who have changed how we connect with nature. One of them was about Ansel Adams, and no one can deny how well he captured the outdoors on camera. The practice and art of capturing the outdoors has been going on for generations, whether it be in book, art, film, song or almost any other form of medium. This was the inspiration for this series of blogs: “Capturers of the Outdoors”. We will take a look at influential individuals who saved and stirred a bevy of emotions and memories we have by capturing the outdoors in some manner. To start us off will the famous writer, Zane Grey.
Zane Grey was born in Ohio in 1872. He was born a Pearl Zane Grey but dropped his first name as he never was a fan of it. He however was a fan of almost all things considered American at the time that included baseball, history and fishing. He was most avid though about being a writer. He tried his hand at dentistry for a while but wanted nothing more than to be a writer.
Like many of the greats, Grey went through several failures before reaching success. Several of his first writings were rejected by publishers. This did not help that Grey suffered from depression and other mood swings. Once he began writing in the Western genre, he found success. His novels focused on topics like Western Expansion, Manifest Destiny and other such subjects. His first bestseller was The Heritage of the Desert from 1910. Two years later he wrote his most well-known book Riders of the Purple Sage.
Riders of the Purple Sage would not only be Grey’s best known book but also his best-seller and one of the all-time best selling western genre books. It made him a household name. This book would spur a movement for more western literature, keeping imagery and stories from the Old West still alive for generations to come. It was even adapted into a movie giving a new medium to the work. It has been remade countless times and for many it is the quintessential western story. No library collection is complete without a copy of it.
From the success of this book, Grey was able to afford his true passion in life of fishing. He spent as much time as possible fishing wherever he could. He bought a boat that he would take lengthy adventures on. He helped make big-game fishing what it is today. Saltwater fishing was a huge part of his love affair with the sea and caught many prolific fish throughout his time. There are now even a few tournaments that bear his name.
All the while he continued writing, mostly contributing to Outdoor Life magazine. Some stories were true, others were fictional and some seemed to be a little bit of both. There is a great book out there called Best of Zane Grey, Outdoorsman. It is a collection of hunting, fishing and other outdoor tales. It also offers some facts about the writer’s life that many may not know about. Like how he tried to start a Dolphin Club that would work in the same way as a fishing club but for harpooning dolphins. Or how he “battled” a whale shark while on a sea-faring trip looking for a “sea monster” in the Pacific Ocean. Probably the best thing though is how he tried to write off all of his hunting, fishing, sea-faring and other outdoor trips and gear as tax-deductions because they were so important to his writings. He even went in front of the Supreme Court!
Zane Grey loved the outdoors and it is beautifully portrayed in his writings. The fact that he wrote not only about outdoor sporting for many years for magazines but wrote novels on a genre that is so entwined with the outdoors and open-air country. He truly was a capturer of the outdoors.