Fishing Lines: Many riders of Grey the grumpy sage

Mention Zane Grey and most people think: "Cowboy books". It's true that the author of Riders of the Purple Sage and The Rainbow Trail made his money from westerns - but he spent it on fishing.

Pearl Zane Grey (no wonder he adopted his middle name) was the JK Rowling of the 1920s. He had a novel in the top 10 bestsellers' list every year between 1915 and 1924, and in 1927 alone earnt $323,000. Heritage of the Desert had sold 17 million copies by 1939. Most of his books have been made into films, some two or three times.

When he died in 1939, he should have been worth tens of millions. Instead, he had squandered it all on increasingly lavish boats and exotic trips. By 1931, he owed $300,000 on yet another new boat he was planning.

Nothing wrong with that. Live big, spend big. People expect that from a superstar. Sadly, Grey was a curmudgeon. He hated people catching larger fish, and he was forced to resign from the snooty Catalina Tuna Club over a record 426lb broadbill swordfish landed by a woman. Grey, whose largest swordfish was only 418lb, claimed she was neither big enough nor strong enough to capture such a big fish. The boatman must have done most of the work, he said.

It's a darn shame he was such a vain, pompous, unlikeable man, because he wrote some of the great fishing books. Works such as Tales of Swordfish and Tuna, Tales of Tahitian Waters and Tales of Fishing Virgin Seas are, even today, among the finest works on big-game fishing.

But perhaps he had a more kindly side. After all, he used to take two, three or four female companions along on his trips, lasting weeks or more. So what if he wanted an audience for his achievements?

Ah, it was a bit more than that. A terrific new book on Grey* by Thomas Pauly reveals that, far from being a kindly old chap giving young women the chance to see the world, Grey was a lecherous cad who was rogering them all.

Pauly reveals: "There exists an enormous, totally unknown cache of photographs taken by Grey of nude women and himself performing various sexual activities, including intercourse. These are accompanied by 10 small journals, written in Grey's secret code, that contain graphic descriptions of his sexual adventures."

Pauly, who has seen the collection, says that there are several hundred negatives and prints. "Most are of nude females, and involve more than a dozen different women. The early ones date from Grey's college years, perhaps earlier, but the ones from the 1930s are more pornographic. I was allowed to examine this collection and to offer this inventory, but not to quote from the journals or publish any of the photographs."

Grey claimed the women were a crucial part of his inspiration. He was hugely generous to them, buying expensive gifts and, on one occasion, even a house. His wife Dolly, it seems, knew all about them, but turned a blind eye.

I suspect my wife might not be quite so understanding.

'Zane Grey: His Life, His Adventures, His Women', by Thomas H Pauly ($34.95, Univ of Illinois Press)

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
i100

Other places that have held independence referendums
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
news

Sport
footballThe latest scores and Twitter updates from tonight’s games, featuring Bayern Munich vs Man City and Chelsea vs Schalke
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
News
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur
film

It scooped up an unprecedented 11 Academy Awards when it was first remade in 1959

News
news

Watch this commuter wage a one-man war against the Circle Line
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
lifeShould we feel guilty about keeping cats inside?
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes the hobby look 'dysfunctional', they say
Arts and Entertainment
Maxine Peake plays Hamlet at Manchester's Royal Exchange
theatreReview: Maxine Peake brings emotional ferocity to Shakespeare's starring part
Extras
10 best table lamps
indybest
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Project Manager (technical, applications, infrastructure)

£55000 - £60000 Per Annum + benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: IT Proj...

English Teacher (Bristol and South Gloucestershire)

Negotiable: Randstad Education Bristol: English teachers for day to day cover,...

Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Sheffield: Year 6 Teacher RequiredThis teaching...

SharePoint Administrator - Bishop's Stortford / Stansted

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: SharePoint Administrator - Bishop's ...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week