Wednesday, 19 August 2020

Raymond Sheppard and Jack Schaefer and Philip Yordan

 I recently acquired another book for my collection - whilst looking for a completely different one. I find Sheppard's work easy to sight from a distance so when I received an alert from eBay for "The Canyon" by Jack Schaefer - which once again led to disappointment - I saw under "Other suggestions" what looked to be Raymond Sheppard's work... and here it is!

The Big Range - Cover by Raymond Sheppard

This is a really strange composition for Sheppard - the headless horseman! I've yet to read the stories to see if it's significant the rider's identity is hidden but I suspect this was a mistake by an art editor at Andre Deutsch who enlarged the image for the cover with no thought to the man(?) on the horse! And the publisher is interesting too as I didn't realise Sheppard had done several for them. 

I've been searching for "The Canyon" for years because Christine Sheppard has it in her collection and having now tripped over several others I thought I'd bring them together now rather than wait till I have based on experience that may be a few years yet!

Here's the dustjacket description:

 THE BIG RANGE - JACK SCHAEFER Author of Shane and First Blood

Seven tales about seven people. Place: the Western frontier. Time: the days when you could claim your home was a 'town' if there was 'a stage stoppin' in and gold goin' out' and when, if you could add to this the presence of a couple of women, your claim was pretty well substantiated. The people are Jeremy Rodock, a hanging man when it came to horse thieves; Miley Bennett, a funny little frog-faced runt who loved the range because it made a man feel big too; Emmet Dutrow who, in his horror of saloons and painted women, ruined not only himself but his wife and son; General Pingley, a stubborn old coot of a southerner for whom the Civil War had never ended; Sergeant Houck, a big slab of cross-grained granite with a tender heart; Kittura Remsberg, who built a way of life by smashing a mirror; and Major Burl, whose belly bumped his saddle horn as he rode and who could stitch words in a string.
None of these people could have been what they were and none of these things could have happened except in the wide-open spaces of the old West. Each story is based on an incident which really happened and the background details come from Mr Schaefer's study of the diaries and journals of the time. Jack Schaefer is the only writer of Westerns who can make realism and romanticism run as a team; who can take the hard facts of those pioneering lives and combine them with drama, humour and pathos in such a way that his stories delight everyone, whether their brows are high, low or middle. 'What he does is well worth doing,' as J. B. Priestley said of Shane.

Dustjacket to The Big Range

"Schaefer shares the individual stories of seven people-rancher, sheepherder, homesteader, town settler, soldier, miner, and cowboy-in this collection. He tells the tales as they can only be told: in the open spaces of the Old West. In these memorable narratives Schaefer depicts the unique conflicts of settler life and captures the spirit of the resolute, willful, determined, and broken characters found on the Western frontier" - later edition's blurb.

It's interesting to research Schaefer on the Internet and how little 'meat' there is online regarding his biography. Basically he was born on 19 November, 1907 and died on the 24 January, 1991 and was a journalist/novelist who wrote about the old West without having travelled there!

The book, for which I have been searching for many years, is a more popular title by Schaefer called "The Canyon". However the edition I want is the Sheppard cover. Luckily Christine Sheppard has a copy which I have photographed below.


The Canyon by Jack Schaefer

THE CANYON - JACK SCHAEFER - Author of Shane and First Blood
The Canyon
is the story of Little Bear, a Cheyenne Indian who was different from the rest of his people. He was an orphan and his legs were short and bowed like the legs of the badger so that, as a boy, he could not run as fast as even the slowest of his companions. He grew to be a good hunter and respected in the village, but his humility kept him always a little apart so that his thoughts and dreams became unlike the thoughts and dreams of other men, and the difference between him and them weighed on his heart. When an accident - or was it the Maiyun, the spirits who inhabit the hills? - led him to the lost canyon and imprisoned him there, a strange existence began for Little Bear, in which he found happiness. Mr Schaefer's description of how his hero made himself the necessities of life, found food and shelter, devised traps for buffalo and fought the deadly puma single-handed has the true Robinson Crusoe touch.
Little Bear escaped from his canyon at last, but he left his heart there. The story tells what happened when he found another love - Spotted Turtle, who became his wife -and had to decide whether to keep her in his private world or to forget his 'difference' and fall in with the ways of his people.
The Canyon is a long story or a short novel. For full measure, three more of Jack Schaefer's stories have been added to it: Elvie Burdette, Cooter James and Josiah Willett. All three are distinguished by a delightful dry humour and add unforgettable details to the picture of the West as it really was: something which Jack Schaefer knows better than any living writer.

It's interesting to see how the art editor used the same device (the title 'bubble') but used it without eliminating masses of Sheppard's artwork. You would think the artist's brief would include the fact "your design must leave a lozenge shape free for the title" or similar!

Now being a keen researcher into all sorts of minutiae, I started searching for more Andre Deutsch books published by these authors and subjects at that time and that led to the third Jack Schaefer title with an illustrated cover by Sheppard

The Pioneers by Jack Schaefer

I've joined two images together to show the spine as best I can without a copy, thanks to Waverley Books for the image via eBay which is too expensive even for my obsession!

The blurb:

Exploring varied tales of life in the West, Schaefer shares the stories of exceptional characters conflicted with humanity as they navigate the challenges and opportunities that can only be found on the frontier. From the humor in "Cat Nipped" to the common concerns found in "Prudence by Name," Jack Schaefer again places himself as the authentic voice of the West. Other stories in the collection include "Something Lost," "Leander Frailey," "That Mark Horse," "My Town," "Harvey Kendall," "Out of the Past," "Old Anse," "Takes a Real Man," and "Hugo Kertchak, Builder."

The fourth book I found as a result of searching came from Brought to Book Ltd which is run by Adam Lay. "Man of the West" by Philip Yordan - read more about him here and I'm sure you've seen a few of his films as he has 69 credits as screenwriter and an Academy Award to his name! Adam kindly sent me some images to share - thus the watermarks! The fact that Yordan's book is in the same format gives me hope there may be more!

Man of the West by Philip Yordan

Man of the West dustjacket

The town of Good Hope boasts an Early Street, an Early hotel, and an Early Sweet Shoppe. This would certainly surprise Mr. Early if he were alive today, because when he first rode into the place with his son beside him, men scowled and women called their children in from the street. For Good Hope aimed to be a law-abiding place, and Mr. Early carried with him the dangerous glamour of his past as a gunman, even if he did intend to settle down on the land he owned and find some peace at last.
The red-haired Jo Ann made matters worse when she ran out on her employer and joined Mr Early on his farm, but the real crisis came with the arrival of Mr Grimsell. Mr Grimsell planned to drive twenty thousand head cattle over Angel's Pass and through the valley, making a desert of it as they went by. The people of the town thought they could reason with Grimsell but Mr Early knew at once that it's guns, not people, which would have to do the talking.
Men died violently before it was all over -good men and bad  And the story of how it all happened makes a novel all the more stirring for being true to life as it really was in the days when the West was still wild.
This is Philip Yordan's first novel. Hitherto he has been best known for his famous play Anna Lurasta.

 I did check "First Blood" by Schaefer published by Andre Deutsch, in 1954 but that cover is definitely not Sheppard. It would have been fantastic to discover Raymond Sheppard drew a cover for Schaefer's most well-known work Shane, but no, that's available on and is not by Sheppard.

Any booksellers wanting to use the blurbs above, please help yourselves.

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