In 1909, Elinore Pruitt answered Burntfork, Wyo. rancher Clyde Stewart’s Denver Post ad for a housekeeper. She soon married Stewart and achieved her dream of becoming a homesteader. Her vivid letters about her experiences were published in the book Letters of a Woman Homesteader, bringing her nationwide fame.
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.
Caroline Lockhart wrote a handful of novels about Wyoming in the early 20th century. They made her famous and rich, and they hold up well today. At the same time, she was a new kind of activist, a central figure in bringing to the town of Cody and the state of Wyoming a new kind of nostalgia-based culture that both have embraced ever since.
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.