The Frontier Club is Christine Bold's name for the network of eastern aristocrats who created the western as we now most commonly know it. At the turn of the twentieth century, they yoked this most popular formula to their own elite causes-from big-game hunting to conservation, immigration restriction to Jim Crow segregation-and aligned themselves with cattle kings and "quality" publishers. This book tells the story of that cultural sleight-of-hand. It delves into institutional archives and personal papers to excavate the hidden social, political, and financial interests in the making of the modern western. It re-reads frontier club fiction in relation to the federal policies and cultural spaces (from exclusive gentlemen's clubs to national parks to zoos) with which it was intimately connected; the centerpiece is Owen Wister's bestselling novel The Virginian.
It casts new light on nine key clubmen, both the famous and the forgotten-in addition to Wister, the network included Theodore Roosevelt, George Bird Grinnell, Silas Weir Mitchell, Henry Cabot Lodge, Madison Grant, Caspar Whitney, Winthrop Chanler, and Frederic Remington-while recovering the women on whom these men depended and without whom this version of the popular West would not exist. Bold also considers some of the costs of the frontier club formula, in terms of its impact on Indigenous peoples and its marginalization of other popular voices, including western writings by African Americans, white women, and non-elite white men. The book ends by briefly charting the frontier club's enduring impression on western movies.
Christine Bold is Professor of English at the University of Guelph. She is the author of Selling the Wild West, The WPA Guides and the editor of The Oxford History of Popular Print Culture: Volume Six: US Popular Print Culture 1860-1920.
List of Illustrations ; Preface ; Acknowledgements ; The Frontier Club Western: An Introduction ; Frontier Clubmen ; Vigilante Clubmen ; The Virginian ; Chapter 1: Boone and Crockett Writers ; The Boone and Crockett Club, 1893 ; Boone and Crockett Clubmen ; Theodore Roosevelt ; George Bird Grinnell ; Owen Wister ; Winthrop Chanler ; Madison Grant ; Henry Cabot Lodge ; Caspar Whitney ; Frederic Remington ; The Books of the Boone and Crockett Club ; Shaping the Voice ; Clearing the Enclave ; Writing the Frontier Club Western ; Lobbying the Federal Government ; Conclusion ; Chapter 2: Cowboys and Publishers ; A Very Proper Philadelphian ; Frontier Club Neurasthenia ; A Man's Gotta Do ... ; Aristocrats Out West ; Frontier Club Investments ; The Cheyenne Club ; Cowboys and Vigilantes ; Showdown on Publishers' Row ; Frontier Club Investments ; The Frontier Club Western and the Literary Marketplace ; Conclusion: The Frontier Club vs Alkali Ike ; Chapter 3: Women in the Frontier Club ; Frontier Club Women and Families ; The Wister Women ; Molly Wister ; Women's Space in the Frontier Club Western ; Conclusion ; Chapter 4: Jim Crow and the Western ; Wister: "white for a hundred years" ; Roosevelt's Rough Riders ; Remington: With the Eye of the Mind ; Black Rough Riders Redux ; Conclusion ; Chapter 5: Immigrants and "Indians" ; Vanishing Acts ; Immigration Restriction ; Owen Wister ; Madison Grant ; Another Hank ; American Indian Assimilation ; George Bird Grinnell ; Jack the Young Frontier Clubman ; Conclusion ; Chapter 6: Outside the Frontier Club ; Princess Chinquilla ; Cheek by Jowl ; Rewriting 1902 ; Conclusion: Frontier Club Fingerprints