On a Silver Desert
The Life of Ernest Haycox
Published by: University of Oklahoma Press
Imprint: University of Oklahoma Press
365 Pages | 6 x 9 | 52 b&w illus.
Vocal Republican, accomplished gardener, lover of large cars, Ernest Haycox was nothing if not three-dimensional. Despite a haphazard childhood that included abandonment by his parents, Haycox (1899–1950) decided early on to be a writer. Once he began he did not stop, approaching writing with both an unparalleled passion and a keen business sense that included normal business hours in a downtown Portland office.
Until now little has been written about Haycox, the famed Collier’s and Saturday Evening Post contributor who wrote twenty-four novels and more than two hundred short stories. Bridging the gap between the formula Western and the literary western novel, Haycox frequently incorporated actual historical events into his works: Trouble Shooter documents the building of the Union Pacific railroad, The Border Trumpet covers the Apache wars in Arizona, and Bugles in the Afternoon draws upon the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Director John Ford adapted Haycox’s work for Stagecoach (1939, starring John Wayne), as did Cecil De Mille for Union Pacific (1939, starring Barbara Stanwyck).
Ernest Haycox Jr. describes his father’s life, work, and views on the craft of writing. In a remarkably candid biography, original photographs of Hollywood stars and excerpts from Haycox’s correspondence, including letters from the last years of his life, round out this incisive look at a literary giant.