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Archives On The Air 2: Who Was The Virginian? – Owen Wister Papers

Around 1891 western author Owen Wister began to create his most famous character. He created a Southern-born ranch hand who was hardened to the West, yet genteel. The character also voiced Wister’s conservative blue-blooded values. This character came to be known as The Virginian.

There have been many claims about the identity of the Virginian. According to Wister, he was a composite of several men he met in the West.

One of these men was a Virginia-born rancher he met in 1885. Another was a military man he met at Fort Bowie, Arizona in 1893. Other influences included two Kansas boys and a ranch foreman he met in New Mexico in 1894.

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