Over the course of sixty years, McMurtry wrote more than thirty novels and screenplays, as well as history, biography, books of essays, and memoirs.
Larry McMurtry died Thursday, March 25, 2021, in Tucson, Arizona, at the age of eighty-four. The death was confirmed by his wife, Faye Kesey McMurtry, and Amanda Lundberg, a spokeswoman for the family. Cause of death was not provided.
Over the course of sixty years, McMurtry wrote more than thirty novels and screenplays, as well as history, biography, books of essays, and memoirs. His first novel was Horseman, Pass By (1961), which was made into the movie Hud, starring Paul Newman. Peter Bogdanovich directed Jeff Bridges and Cybill Shepherd in the film version of McMurtry’s novel The Last Picture Show (1966). The movie of his 1975 novel, Terms of Endearment, starring Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, and Jack Nicholson, won the best-picture Academy Award in 1983. The work for which McMurtry is best known, his epic novel Lonesome Dove, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1986 and was made into a mini-series starring Tommy Lee Jones and Robert Duvall. His screenplay for Brokeback Mountain, written with longtime collaborator Diana Ossana, won an Academy Award in 2006.
Other honors include a Golden Globe Award, multiple Spur Awards, a BAFTA, a Helmerich Award, a Writers Guild of American award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Jesse H. Jones Award from the Texas Institute of Letters, to name a few. McMurtry was also the president of American PEN for two years.
Larry Jeff McMurtry was born in Wichita Falls, Texas, on June 3, 1936, to ranchers Hazel Ruth and William Jefferson McMurtry. He graduated from North Texas State University in 1958 and married Jo Ballard Scott a year later. The couple had a son, James, now a singer and songwriter, before divorcing in 1966. After receiving an M.A. in English from Rice University in 1960, McMurtry attended Stanford University, where he was a Stegner Fellow. He returned to Rice University, where he wrote his first novels, in 1972 to teach English. He also taught at Texas Christian University, George Mason College, and American University. While in D.C., McMurtry opened Booked Up, a store dealing in rare books.
McMurtry lived in his hometown of Archer City, Texas, for most of his life. The latest iteration of Booked Up is also located in Archer City. According to their website, on any given day you can expect to find between 150,000 and 200,000 books to browse. As McMurtry noted, “Few books are rare; we have handled only a handful . . . But many books are attractive. Customers come to us from wherever the four winds blow.” Booked Up marks its fiftieth anniversary in business this month.
Information regarding other survivors and any plans for a memorial have not been released.