Elmer Kelton

Today, April 29, is the birthday of Elmer Kelton, a well-known, award-winning author of Westerns, focusing on Texas. He was born in 1926 at the Horse Camp on the Five Wells Ranch in Andrews County, Texas, and grew up on the McElroy Ranch near Crane, Texas. 

He graduated from high school in Crane and received a BA in journalism from the University of Texas in Austin (with a two-year interruption for Army service in Europe in WWII). He had a long career as an agricultural journalist, but he also wrote more than 40 novels. He died Saturday, August 22, 2009, in San Angelo.

• Three of his novels were featured in Readers’ Digest Condensed Books.
• Eight of his novels won Spur Awards from the Western Writers of America, who also named him the greatest Western writer of all time.
• Three other of his novels received Western Heritage Awards from the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.
• "The Good Old Boys" was made into a TNT film in 1995 starring Tommy Lee Jones. Jones wrote the screenplay and also was the director.
• In April 1997, the Texas State Legislature proclaimed "Elmer Kelton Day".
• In 1998, he received the first Lone Star Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Larry McMurtry Center for Arts and Humanities at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas.
• He received two honorary doctorates from two Texas universities.
• He received a lifetime achievement award from the National Cowboy Symposium in Lubbock.
• He was honored with a star in the sidewalk at the Fort Worth Stockyards in Fort Worth, Texas.
• Beginning in 2014, the Academy of Western Artists, based in Gene Autry, Oklahoma, will award the first of its forthcoming annual Elmer Kelton book awards to successful authors in both fiction and non-fiction.

Elmer was generous with his time and knowledge, spending considerable time each year speaking to libraries, participating in writing conferences, and attending book signings.