The Ox-Bow Incident: Biography: Walter Van Tilburg Clark
Walter Van Tilburg Clark is renowned as a writer of Westerns and his work gained national success. He was born in 1909 in East Orland, Maine. The family moved to New York after Clark's father, Walter E. Clark, was employed by the City College of New York. They moved again when his father became president of the University of Nevada in 1917, and he retained this job until 1937. Clark gained his degree and his Masters at this university and moved to Vermont in 1931 where he taught and studied for his second Masters. After marrying in 1933, he and his wife soon moved to Cazenovia, New York. Here, Clark taught English at high school level.
Clark's first novel, The Ox-Bow Incident (1940), was a critical success. It was adapted for film in 1943 and starred Henry Fonda. Although this work draws on the Western genre, it is widely agreed that it surpasses this categorization and effectively encompasses a critique of civilization. His second novel is The City of Trembling Leaves (1945), which draws on autobiographical elements. The Track of the Cat (1949) is his third published novel and this has also been adapted for film, in 1954.
As well as being an acclaimed novelist, he wrote short-stories, poetry and non-fiction. His first publication was a collection of his poems, Ten Women in Gale's House and Shorter Poems (1932). His last major published work was The Watchful Gods and Other Stories (1950). Although after this time he was not being published so prolifically, he continued to write. He was in the process of writing two novels and had edited the diaries of Alfred Doten before his untimely death. Alfred Doten wrote daily entries from 1849 until 1903 and in time these became regarded as historical chronicles of the mining frontier. Clark was selected to edit Doten's journals when the University of Nevada, Reno acquired them in 1961. They were published in 1973.
Between 1962 and 1971, Clark worked as a lecturer and writer-in-residence at the University of Nevada, Reno. He died of cancer in Virginia City, Nevada in 1971.