Jack Schaefer

Jack Schaefer

Jack Schaefer, author of the western classic Shane, was born on November 19, 1907 in Cleveland, Ohio. He attended local schools and went on to Oberlin College, where he studied English, then attended graduate school at Columbia University in New York City. He left grad school for a career in journalism, doing mostly editorial work in cities such as New Haven, Baltimore, and Norfolk. It was while working at the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot in 1945 that Schaefer began to write fiction, mostly for recreation. He created a short story about a cowboy, gradually transforming it into a short novel. This story was entitled “Rider from Nowhere,” and Schaefer published it in the magazine Argosy as a three part western-serial. This book became Shane, which Houghton Mifflin published in 1949. Four years later the famous film version was released starring Alan Ladd. After the success of Shane, Schaefer moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Alan Ladd as Shane.

Alan Ladd as Shane.

Shane has been a western favorite ever since, but Schaefer went on to create many other works, such as the novels The Canyon (1953), Old Ramon (1960), and Monte Walsh (1963), which was made into a film with Lee Marvin and then remade with Tom Selleck.

Critical edition of "Shane" published by the University of Nebraska Press (image courtesy of Powell's Books).

Critical edition of “Shane” published by the University of Nebraska Press (image courtesy of Powell’s Books).

I’ve had quite a bit of experience with the novel Shane, having taught it for a number of years as a middle school teacher. I’ve always enjoyed it. It is one of those simple and straightforward stories that carries a lot of depth. I look forward to writing more about Shane, Jack Schaefer, and his other works here at Buckeyemuse. He’s a writer who deserves to be better known.

Jack Schaefer died on January 24, 1991.

Patrick Kerin


Shane: The Critical Edition. Jack Schaefer, edited by James C. Work. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln and London. 1984. Shane originally published by Houghton Mifflin, New York, 1949.

Wikipedia entry on Jack Schaefer