Alan Le May

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Alan Brown Le May (June 3, 1899 – April 27, 1964) was an American novelist and screenplay writer.

He is most remembered for two classic Western novels, The Searchers (1954) and The Unforgiven (1957).[1] They were adapted into the motion pictures The Searchers (1956; with John Wayne and directed by John Ford) and The Unforgiven (1960; with Burt Lancaster and Audrey Hepburn).

He also wrote or co-wrote the screenplays for Reap the Wild Wind (1942; with John Wayne and Paulette Goddard) and Blackbeard the Pirate (1952; with Robert Newton), North West Mounted Police (1940; for Cecil B. DeMille and starring Gary Cooper and Paulette Goddard), and the novel for Along Came Jones (1945; with Gary Cooper), as well as a score of other screenplays and an assortment of novels and short stories. Le May wrote and directed High Lonesome (1950) starring John Drew Barrymore and Chill Wills and featuring Jack Elam. Le May also wrote and directed Quebec (1951), also starring John Drew Barrymore..


He was born in Indianapolis, Indiana to John and Maude Brown Le May. His father was a public school teacher and his maternal grandfather (Daniel L. Brown, Sr.) and uncle (Daniel L. Brown, Jr.) were both lawyers. He first lived with his parents and uncle at his grandparents home at 3229 North Illinois Street in Indianapolis. He moved with his family, including his sister Elizabeth, to Aurora, Illinois as a teenager in the 1910s.

He attended Stetson University in DeLand, Florida in 1916. In 1918 he registered for the World War I draft in Aurora, and then enlisted and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. While attending the University of Chicago, where he graduated in 1922 with a Bachelor of Philosophy degree, he joined the Illinois National Guard. He was promoted to First Lieutenant Field Artillery for the Illinois National Guard in 1923.

He published his first novel, Painted Ponies, in 1927 (about the Cheyenne and the U. S. Cavalry horse soldiers).


  • The Searchers
  • The Unforgiven
  • The Bells of San Juan (Short Stories)
  • Cattle Kingdom
  • Spanish Crossing
  • The Smoky Years
  • Painted Ponies
  • Old Father of Waters
  • Reap the Wild Wind (screenplay with others)
  • Blackbeard the Pirate (screenplay with De Vallon Scott)
  • Along Came Jones (aka Useless Cowboy)
  • Hell For Breakfast
  • Thunder in the Dust
  • Gunsight Trail
  • Wild Justice
  • Winter Range
  • By Dim and Flaring Lamps
  • I Dream of Jeanie (screenplay)


  1. ^ Herzberg, Bob (2008). Savages and Saints: The Changing Image of American Indians in Westerns, pp. 164-65. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc.

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