A Women's History

Victoria Lamont

Postwestern Horizons Series

210 pages
5 illustrations


August 2016


$55.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)

(Requires Adobe Digital Editions)

August 2016


$55.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)

(Requires Adobe Digital Editions)

August 2016


$55.00 Add to Cart

June 2024


$25.00 Pre-order

About the Book

At every turn in the development of what we now know as the western, women writers have been instrumental in its formation. Yet the myth that the western is male-authored persists. Westerns: A Women’s History debunks this myth once and for all by recovering the women writers of popular westerns who were active during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries when the western genre as we now know it emerged.

Victoria Lamont offers detailed studies of some of the many women who helped shape the western. Their novels bear the classic hallmarks of the western—cowboys, schoolmarms, gun violence, lynchings, cattle branding—while also placing female characters at the center of their western adventures and improvising with western conventions in surprising and ingenious ways. In Emma Ghent Curtis’s The Administratrix a widow disguises herself as a cowboy and infiltrates the cowboy gang responsible for lynching her husband. Muriel Newhall’s pulp serial character, Sheriff Minnie, comes to the rescue of a steady stream of defenseless female victims. B. M. Bower, Katharine Newlin Burt, and Frances McElrath use cattle branding as a metaphor for their feminist critiques of patriarchy. In addition to recovering the work of these and other women authors of popular westerns, Lamont uses original archival analysis of the western-fiction publishing scene to overturn the long-standing myth of the western as a male-dominated genre.

Author Bio

Victoria Lamont is an associate professor of English at the University of Waterloo. She is a coauthor of Judith Merril: A Critical Study.


"Westerns does far more than add women and stir; it is a tremendous gift to scholarship, restoring women's contributions to American literary history and laying a more accurate and inclusive foundation for future work."—Jennifer S. Tuttle, Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature

"Compelling. . . . A valuable read for all those interested in the intersections of gender and culture in early twentieth century America."—Michigan Historical Review

"Westerns: A Women's History is a readable excursion into female authors, their experiences, and their perspectives, within an important genre. In unmasking and then undoing female erasure from the beginnings
of the American Western novel, Lamont makes important points and deftly defends them. Her book is enjoyable and significant."—Thomas E. Simmons, Journal of American Culture

"Westerns: A Women’s History introduces a whole new set of woman authors and texts to be included in the study and teaching of Western American literature as well as a new and compelling origin narrative of the Western literary genre."—Randi Tanglen, English: Journal of the English Association

"In recovering legacies among western women writers, Lamont herself achieves major stature as a feminist scholar of the West."—Cathryn Halverson, Western American Literature

"Westerns is recommended reading not only for fans of classic Westerns and of feminist literary recovery, but indeed for all readers interested in the history of the American West and the origins of contemporary feminisms."—Emma Morgan-Thorp, Canadian Literature

"For more than a century, the mythic western cowboy has been consistently hypermasculine. Victoria Lamont's Westerns: A Women's History prods the boundaries of this image while debunking the myth that literary westerns were consistently written by men."—Cynthia Culver Prescott, South Dakota History

"Lamont's work rests upon an impressive amount of archival work in little-known ephemera. . . . [Westerns] introduces a new group of works that may be taught on courses focused on the West or inserted into other contexts and critical discussions, causing us to reorganize, question, and revise our existing frameworks."—Nicole Tonkovich, Legacy

"Westerns: A Women's History resurrects the work of well-known western women authors during an era when their stories of strong female characters in the frontier West enjoyed popular readership."—Renee M. Laegreid, Western Historical Quarterly

"Westerns: A Women’s History proves to be an immense pleasure: an essential, revelatory rewriting of the early history of the western novel."—Scott Simmon, Pacific Historical Review

“Lamont’s authoritatively written, engrossing book has much to reveal about the wider history of American feminist discourse in general, bound up in the western genre.”—Gerri Kimber, Times Literary Supplement
“Lamont’s discoveries can be quite startling. . . . [Her] project tackles many contemporary academic issues, from gender fluidity and sexual violence to colonialist iterations of Native narrative to class-based social justice. None of these topics is imposed upon the texts: they emerge organically from Lamont’s close reading of context and narrative. . . . [An] important contribution to the literary history of the West.”—Jennifer L. Jenkins, The Journal of Arizona History
“Lamont has done some wonderful research recovering the complex an important role that women writers played in the beginning of the western.”—Maria O’Connell, Montana: The Magazine of Western History

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
1. Western Violence and the Limits of Sentimental Power
2. Domestic Politics and Cattle Rustling
3. Women’s Westerns and the Myth of the Pseudonym
4. Why Mourning Dove Wrote a Western
5. Cattle Branding and the Traffic in Women
6. The Masculinization of the Western

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