James Oliver Curwood
James Oliver Curwood (1878-1927) was born in Owosso, Michigan, in 1878, where he lived for most of his life. His father was a cobbler and owned a small shop, but this failed when James was six years old. For the next seven years the family lived on a remote farm, and James's job was to pick up stones. Later in life he pointed to these rough years as having helped to build his character.
Despite being expelled from high school in the tenth grade, Curwood passed the entrance exams to the University of Michigan, where he studied journalism. Two years later, in 1900, he left the university and married Cora Leon Johnson. This was also the year he sold his first story, "Across the Range," for five dollars. He went to work for the Detroit News-Tribune covering funerals and for a pharmaceutical company until he was able to support himself through his writing. In 1909 Curwood divorced Cora and married Ethel Greenwood. That was also the year he took his first trip into the Canadian Northwest and thereafter would spend up to six months each year in the arctic wilderness. This was where he set some of his most successful books.
While on a hunting trip in the Rockies, Curwood stalked a bear for three weeks. As he moved in for the kill, he slipped and broke his gun. The bear reared up over Curwood, then left him unharmed. That day Curwood turned away from hunting and became an ardent conservationist.
By 1919, when he wrote The River's End, Curwood was one of the most successful writers in North America. He eventually earned over $1,000,000, which enabled him to build a Norman chateau along the banks of the Shiawassee River, now the official James Curwood Museum. Despite being obsessed with his health, and declaring that he would "live to be 100," he died of blood poisoning at age 49, in 1927.
Over his lifetime, Curwood wrote over 30 books. Among them were The Grizzly King, The Wolf Hunters, The Alaskan, The Country Beyond, and Son of the Forests.