Bertha Muzzy Bower
Bertha Muzzy Bower was perhaps the first female author of mass-market Western fiction. In her lifetime, Bower wrote sixty-eight Western novels under an androgynous nom de plume, a mandate made by her early publisher Street & Smith in order to conceal her gender from readers. While it is difficult to accurately assess the massive popularity of these novels, her works—particularly her Flying U novels—attracted the attention of several Hollywood producers and were regularly adapted into films. Her most popular novel, Chip, of the Flying U, seemed to have been a favorite among moviemakers, as it was adapted four times. As most scholarship on Bower focuses on her literary career, information on her work in cinema remains sketchy and indeterminable. Nonetheless, several sources tell us that Bower was attracted to cinema and particularly to the Hollywood Western. According to Orrin Engen, Bower believed that “the early cowboys of the films projected the essential vitality of life on the range” (11). Outside of the film adaptations, her ties to Hollywood seem tangential at best, though she also worked as a scenario writer and screenwriter, collaborating extensively with director Colin Campbell and cowboy actor Tom Mix.
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