A Western Bibliography

I I find all my information for my Western novels. Obviously it's a lot harder for me, living in England, than it would be for someone on the appropriate side of the Atlantic. On this page, I list some of the most useful books in my collexion. Nearly all of them were obtained secondhand, so where anyone else who might want copies would get them from, I don't know. I personally recommend the Town Green Bookshop, Wymondham (that's pronounced Wind-um), Norfolk, England, which is one of the few secondhand bookshops I know that actually has a special Western non-fiction section.

Cowboy Culture
by David Dary, 1981. pub A. A. Knopf. USA. A marvellous hardback that covers everything from roping techinques to recipes. Essential reading for any cowboy writer.
The American West 1840-1895
1977 pub Holmes McDougall. UK. A school textbook and packed with sensible info. Particularly useful for defining areas of law like US Marshals, town marshals and county sheriffs. It also has useful maps of when different Territories became States.
Authentic Costumes and Characters of the Old West
by E. Lisle Reedstrom 1992 US, 1986 UK. Does exactly what it says on the cover. Nice details on things like exactly when jeans came into common use among cowboys. Also has a nice section on how card holdout cheats worked, and cheating dice.
British Gentlemen in the Old West
by Lawrence M Woods, 1989 pub Robson Books UK. Fascinating account of a little-known aspect of western history. It gave me useful background for the English-owned Paducah Cattle Company, and for Hugh Keating in 'Darrow's Law'.
The Comanches - Lords of the South Plains
by Earnest Wallace and E Adamsun Hoebel, 1953 pub University of Oklahoma Press USA. The essential book about Comanches; an anthropological work and amazingly detailed on everything from how to make pemmican, to Comanche tales. I found it an invaluable source for writing about Josh Thunder, and also for the behaviour of the Comanches in 'Cullen's Quest'. All the Indian Life books published by this publisher are recommended.
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Nineteenth Century Firearms
by Major F Myatt MC, 1989 Tiger Books UK. Another highly regarded work, published in more than one edition. I got this from a remainder bookshop. It covers the development of weapons over its period, as well as showing some lovely examples. Nice if you want a character to use more than just the ubiquitous Colt or Winchester.
The Old West
Time-Life books USA. Produced during the 1970's, these are large, generously illustrated books, of which I have about a dozen. Each covers a separate topic. I don't have all of them, but the ones I find most useful are 'The Spanish West', 'The Pioneers', 'The Townsmen' and 'The Expressmen'. The period photos in the back are particularly interesting.
The Claim by the Cottonwood Tree
US title Miss Charity Comes to Stay by Alberta W Constant. 1964 Andre Deutch UK. Another published in more than one edition. This is a children's story, but delightfully written and full of day to day details of pioneer life. This is where I got the details of a box lunch, which was to be important in 'The Horseshoe Feud'.
The 'Little House' series
by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I could never stand the sentimental TV series but the books are quite different. Again, there's any amount of detail on the daily lives of the settlers and townsfolk that make up the background of any western story. It's also useful as an insight into the beliefs and values of the time.
The Dictionary of Country Jawing
by Annie Bertram. I found this in a remainder bookshop; it's an American publication, by Gramercy books, 1998. It's a collection of all-American phrases and sayings, such as 'As sure as God made little green apples', with examples of use. Very handy for adding the correct feel to dialogue.
National Geographic Magazine
Almost every charity shop I've ever entered has a pile of these somewhere. It's worth rummaging through them as you can find useful features on almost any subject, and sometimes even a nice map. They're particularly invaluable for learning about the flora and fauna of an area. It can be very difficult to learn anything much about Texas wildflowers when you live in Sheffield, England.

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