John D. Nesbitt

John D. Nesbitt teaches English and Spanish at Eastern Wyoming College in Torrington, Wyo. He wrote his doctoral dissertation (University of California--Davis, 1980) on the classic western novel. Since then, he has published articles on Owen Wister, Zane Grey, Caroline Lockhart, Ernest Haycox, Louis L’Amour, A.B. Guthrie, Jr. and Frederick Manfred, as well as a short book on former Wyoming Poet Laureate Robert Roripaugh. In addition to scholarly work, Nesbitt has published more than 20 western novels and numerous short stories.

Owen Wister’s enormously popular novel, The Virginian, published in 1902, was set in Wyoming and established the cowboy in American literature as the noble, competent, humorous, laconic hero still familiar today. Wister, a Philadelphian, first came to Wyoming in 1885, looking for stories and better health. He visited the state 14 more times between then and 1900, writing and publishing western stories and books of stories before The Virginian made him famous and rich, and set a pattern for thousands of western novels and films to come.

The clear, quiet poetry and fiction of Robert Roripaugh, poet laureate of Wyoming from 1995 through 2002, has long been informed by his youth on his family’s ranch near Lander. In the early 1950s, Roripaugh won bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of the Wyoming before spending two years with the U.S. Army in Japan, where he met and married his wife, Yoshiko. In 1958, the Atlantic Monthly published a short story, and Roripaugh has been publishing and winning prizes on a national level ever since. Also that year he began teaching in the English department at the University of Wyoming, rising to the rank of full professor before retiring in 1993.