Owen Wister

(July 14, 1860 – July 21, 1938)

Biography of Owen Wister

Owen Wister (July 14, 1860 – July 21, 1938) was an American writer and "father" of western fiction.

Owen Wister was born on July 14, 1860, in Germantown, a well-known neighborhood in the northwestern part of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His father, Owen Jones Wister, was a wealthy physician, one of a long line of Wisters raised at the storied Belfield estate in Germantown. He was a distant cousin of Sally Wister. His mother, Sarah Butler Wister, was the daughter of Fanny Kemble, a British actress, and Pierce (Mease) Butler.

He briefly attended schools in Switzerland and Britain, and later studied at St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire and Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he was a classmate of Theodore Roosevelt, a member of Hasty Pudding Theatricals, an editor of the Harvard Lampoon and a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon (Alpha chapter). As a senior Wister wrote the Hasty Pudding's then most successful show, Dido and Aeneas, the proceeds from which aided in the construction of their theater. Wister graduated from Harvard in 1882.

At first he aspired to a career in music, and spent two years studying at a Paris conservatory. Thereafter, he worked briefly in a bank in New York before studying law, having graduated from the Harvard Law School in 1888. Following this, he practiced with a Philadelphia firm, but was never truly interested in that career. He was interested in politics, however, and was a staunch supporter of U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt. In the 1930s, Wister opposed President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal.

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