Saturday, August 6, 2011

Walter Noble Burns: The Wild West's Premier Mythmaker


I love Westerns, which are generally crime stories with an American Wild West backdrop.

According to Mark Dworkin in Wild West magazine, many of the stories about the most famous Westerners are based on myths of the Wild West that came from one writer - Walter Nobel Burns.

Billy the Kid. Wyatt Earp. Joaquín Murrieta. The names of these Western characters are ingrained in America's consciousness, as are the trio's legendary deeds. But that was not the case as late as the first two decades of the 20th century. It took three books—The Saga of Billy the Kid, Tombstone: An Iliad of the Southwest and The Robin Hood of El Dorado: The Saga of Joaquín Murrieta—written by one man between 1926 and 1932, to make that happen. All three books remain in print more than three quarters of a century after their initial publication. The trilogy's author, Walter Noble Burns, deftly combined diligent research with his own skillful embellishments to rescue from obscurity these and other nearly forgotten figures central to the dramatic story of the American West.

... Sophie Poe, widow of Pat Garrett's deputy John Poe, was hired as a consultant on the King Vidor film based on Burns' Saga. Unhappy with what she deemed glorification of the Kid, she told Vidor, "Sir, I knew that little bucktoothed killer, and he wasn't the way you were making him at all." On the other hand, the romance of Saga appears to have inspired Bonnie and Clyde. Found in the back seat of their death car among shotguns, pistols, ammo and stolen license plates was a copy of The Saga of Billy the Kid.

You can read the rest of Mark Dworkin's interesting piece about Burns by via the below link:

1 comment:

  1. Sophie Poe didn't know the Kid and her hubby coulda passed the Kid on the street and not known him from Adam! HAR!