Western Fiction

Western Fiction is typically set in the latter half of the nineteenth century in the Old American West. There is usually a wide cast of characters featured in Western novels, but the most common characters are Native Americans, cowboys and gunfighters, bandits, lawmen, bounty hunters, and outlaws. Western Fiction was at its most popular from the 1920’s to the 1960’s, right when Western movies were up-and-coming. The Aurora Public Library District has numerous Western Fiction authors shelved in the Adult Fiction, Paperback Fiction, and Large Print Fiction collections, as well as a variety of titles available in digital format from the Indiana Digital Download Center. Here are some popular Western Fiction writers:


Louis L’Amour is one of the better-known Western Fiction writers. There is constant adventure within his novels without deterring away from the storyline. Start with Hondo.


William W. Johnstone is known for incorporating plenty of violence and action into his Western novels. It is clear how much research goes into each novel because every detail is precise and accurate. Start with Sidewinders.



Peter Brandvold is a contemporary Western Fiction writer who writes fast-paced novels. His novels are plot-driven rather than character-driven and action-packed, with cliffhangers and plot twists you won’t be expecting. Start with Rogue Lawman.


Ralph W. Cotton is a traditional Western Fiction writer who features a variety of “Old West” characters throughout his novels. Along with Cotton, several other Western Fiction writers have gone to pen Ralph Compton-inspired novels, including Peter BrandvoldDavid Robbins, Marcus Galloway, and Robert Vaughn. Start with Gunman’s Song.


Elmer Kelton writes about the Old West during transition periods in which old ways must be given up for new, which gives his novels a melancholy tone. His novels are realistic, in that attention to detail is extremely precise to make them as accurate as possible. Start with Pecos Crossing.


Larry McMurtry is known for “de-romanticizing the American West,” which basically means his descriptions are vivid and honest. The pace of his novels is often slow, allowing the reader to really enjoy what he or she is reading. Start with Lonesome Dove.


Annie Proulx typically writes Historical Fiction and Western Short Stories. Her most notable Short Story is entitled “Brokeback Mountain,” which is contained in the anthology Close Range: Wyoming Stories.


One of the best things about Western Fiction is that it can crossover into other genres, such as Mystery Fiction, Christian Fiction, and even Classic Fiction. Other noteworthy Western Fiction writers include: James Reasoner, Joe R. Lansdale, A.B. Guthrie, Edward Gorman, Loren D. Estleman, Nancy E. Turner, Zane Grey, and Elmore Leonard.

Happy Reading!