Zane Grey (January 31, 1872 – October 23, 1939) was an American author best known for his popular adventure novels and stories that presented an idealized image of the Old West. Riders of the Purple Sage (1912) was his bestselling book. In addition to the success of his printed works, they later had second lives and continuing influence when adapted as films and TV productions. As of 2007, 110 films, one TV episode, and a series, Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater, had been made that were based loosely on his novels and short stories.
Pearl Zane Gray was born January 31, 1872, in Zanesville, Ohio. It has been suggested that his name derives from the "Pearl Grey" color favored by Queen Victoria in her dress. He was the fourth of five children born to Alice "Allie" Josephine Zane, whose English Quaker immigrant ancestor Robert Zane came to America in 1673, and her husband, Lewis M. Gray, a dentist. His family changed the spelling of their last name to "Grey" after his birth. Later Grey dropped Pearl and used Zane as his first name. He grew up in Zanesville, a city founded by his maternal ancestor Ebenezer Zane, a Revolutionary War patriot; from an early age, he was intrigued by history. Grey developed interests in fishing, baseball, and writing, all which contributed to his writing success. His first three novels recounted the heroism of his ancestors who fought in the American Revolutionary War.
As a child, Grey frequently engaged in violent brawls, despite (or because of) his father punishing him with severe beatings. Though irascible and antisocial like his father, Grey was supported by a loving mother and found a father substitute. Muddy Miser was an old man who approved of Grey's love of fishing and writing, and who talked about the advantages of an unconventional life. Despite warnings by Grey’s father to steer clear of Miser, the boy spent much time during five formative years in the company of the old man.