Gordon Ray Young – Author, Cowboy – Autobiography in Saturday Evening Post, March 7, 1942

Gordon Young was one of the top writers for Adventure magazine. Here’s an auto-biographical short article from him on that originally appeared in the March 7, 1942 issue of the Saturday Evening Post.

Gordon Ray Young
Gordon Ray Young

GORDON RAY YOUNG, having written his first Post serial with Tall in the Saddle, goes back over his own early days to see what makes a writer of Western stories:

” I regret that I’m no youngster, but I’m glad that as a kid I caught a fading glimpse of the Old West, I was born in Ray County, Mo., 1886, near the home and stamping ground of Jesse James and grew up thinking of him as a hero, though later information modified that. Forty-two years ago I began working through the summers on the XY, owned by Fred Harvey, known as ‘the eating-house man.’ His ranch lay about thirty miles west of Granada, Colorado, near the Kansas border. Mr. Harvey also owned a big alfalfa ranch at Granada, and the cows were brought in off the range for winter feeding. Such cowboys as stuck it out rode fence with a sack of staples and a hammer instead of a six-shooter, or loaded hayracks from the stacks and scattered the hay among the herds. Going to school seemed the lesser bad job.

“In school only two things interested me: girls and poetry. I can count a cribbage hand at a glance, but I couldn’t then, and I can’t yet, add a column of figures and get the same answer twice. I’m not much better at spelling. I took up public speaking.

“ I had no more interest in public speaking than I had in raising spinach, but I knew a lot of Kipling and through the summer I’d tell it to the cows. In 1906 I won the state oratorical contest at Colorado Springs— and haven’t made a public speech since.

“After three years of riding I heard about the ocean and got curious—about the South Seas particularly. That is another story; I have since had seven or eight books published out of that one story. My father had a friend who was an editor on the Rocky Mountain News, and the friend put me to work at $5 per week.

” The star reporter was a very quiet young man who never took any interest in me; yet, in a way, he is responsible for the thirty-odd years that I have been writing, I know—I saw the check—that he got as much as $50 for something; and in one month he had five poems and stories in national magazines. The News was proud and gave him a writeup. He wrote as if it wasn’t any trouble at all; as if he merely tipped the ink bottle and the words smoothly flowed out onto the paper. He still writes that way. His name is Damon Runyon.

“Once hunting was a passion. Now I won’t shoot at much of anything but black spots on paper—and sometimes miss them. Any marksman will know what I mean. Revolvers are a hobby and I have some of the best. I believe I am the only fellow to blow up a .357 magnum revolver with a reload, or any other way. It was wholly unintentional. The manufacturer traded me a new gun because he wanted to see what the wrecked one looked like. Not pretty; not when you think of where all the flying pieces might have hit.”


  1. A couple years ago there was a long article about Gordon Young in Blood n Thunder magazine. He wrote several series that I've read over the years:

    Don Everhard crime series for ADVENTURE

    Hurricane Williams sea novels for ADVENTURE

    Red Clark western serials for SHORT STORIES

    And many other stories.

    Many years ago two of his daughters or maybe they were his granddaughters attended Pulpcon and I sold them several issues of magazines with Gordon Young stories. Unfortunately they never attended again and I wished I had talked more with them.

  2. Greetings. This is Christine, the granddaughter of Gordon Young. My mother and I attended Pulpcon those so many years ago.
    I trust all is well with you.
    Thank you for your continued interest in my grandfather's literary works.
    PS the picture at the top is not of my grandfather. If you would like a picture, please let me know. thank you

  3. Hello! Greetings! This is Christine, the granddaughter of Gordon Young. I met you with my mother so very long ago. So thrilled to see there is such an interest still in my grandfather's literary works. I'm delighted. My mother would be as well but she passed away 4 years ago at the age of 92. Thank you for your postings.
    Do take good care!
    PS the picture at the top is not of Gordon Young, it is of another man. If you want I can find and post a picture of him when he was the literary editor of the LA Times.
    most sincerely,

  4. Hello! It is I! Christine. My mother(Gordon Young's daughter) and I came to Pulpcon oh those so many years ago; where was it held, Dayton? I just came across a box with my grandfather's personal typed letters and decided to check online for more information. I found this site! Thank you so much for your continued interest in my grandfather's literary works.

  5. Hello! I am the granddaughter you met those many years ago. My mother and I came to Pulpcon, was it in Ohio? Thank you for your continued interest in my grandfather. It's a delight to know that people still find joy in his creative stories. Thank you. Christine

  6. Yes, I would like a picture of your grandfather. You can send it to this blog's email address: pulpflakes _AT_ gmail DOT com (Replace _AT_ with @ and DOT with . for the email address).

  7. Hi Christine—Even though it must have been 25 or 30 years ago, I still remember the visit that you and your mother made to Pulpcon in Ohio. My best friend Harry Noble and I used to drive to Pulpcon every year and share a table selling duplicate pulp magazines. We both liked Gordon Young's work and though Harry died a few years ago at age 88, I'm still attending the pulp conventions. Now it's called Pulpfest(pulpfest.com) and better than ever.

  8. Christine, Your Grandmother, Regina Young, was my grandfather's half sister and he adored her. There was some falling out between your mother and my grandfather after Regina's death. But I would love to reconnect. My uncle who is 90 and my mother who is 92 remember your grandmother, although they only met her a few times. They know her through their father's stories. I have letters between your grandmother and my grandfather.

  9. I didn't get a reply from Christine, and I checked the Saturday Evening Post issue i took the picture from again. It's what i'll use until i have something better 🙂

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