The Library of America, a nonprofit organization that publishes, preserves, and celebrates America's greatest writing, looks back at when the late, great crime writer Elmore Leonard was a young Western writer.
Months after he graduated from the University of Detroit, Elmore Leonard began writing Western fiction. In April 1951 he submitted his first Western story, “Tizwin,” to the pulp magazine Argosy. It was rejected, but an editor encouraged him to send more. “Trail of the Apache,” the third story Leonard wrote—and his first published story—appeared in Argosy’s December issue. The magazine’s fiction editor James B. O’Connell cautioned him not to give up his job: “You ought to know right at the beginning that writing for a living is a most hazardous occupation.” By the mid-1950s Leonard had developed a routine, getting up each morning and writing for two hours before making breakfast for his kids and heading to a job as a copywriter for the advertising agency Campbell-Ewald. “I had a rule that I had to write a page before I put the water on for the coffee,” he said later.
His employers began to realize they had someone special working in their offices. In October 1956 Campbell-Ewald took out a full-page advertisement in The New Yorker, showing Leonard at his typewriter with a cow skull, two six-shooters, and a rifle on the wall behind him. The headline: “Meanwhile, back at the agency.” The ad described him as “a rising young writer of Western novels” whose “gunsights never become entangled in fancy verbal foliage.”
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