ELMORE LEONARD Biography - Writers


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Elmore Leonard                                                                         
Born October 11, 1925 (age 82)                                                         
New Orleans, Louisiana                                                                 
Occupation writer, screenwriter                                                       
Genres Pulp fiction, Westerns                                                         
Leonard was born in New Orleans, but his father worked as a site locator for           
General Motors and the family moved frequently for several years. In 1934 the         
family finally settled in Detroit, Michigan and Leonard has made this area his         
home ever since.                                                                       
In the 1930s, two major events occurred that would influence many of his works.       
Gangsters such as Bonnie and Clyde were making national headlines, as were the         
Detroit Tigers baseball team. From about 1931 to 1934, Bonnie and Clyde were on       
a rampage, and were killed in May 1934. The Tigers made it to the World Series         
in 1934. Leonard turned these events into lifelong fascinations with both sports       
and guns.                                                                             
Leonard graduated from the University of Detroit Jesuit High School in 1943 and       
immediately joined the Navy, where he served with the Seabees for three years in       
the south Pacific. In 1946 he enrolled at the University of Detroit, where he         
pursued writing more seriously, entering his work in short story contests and         
sending it off to magazines. A year before he graduated, he got a job as a copy       
writer for an ad agency, a position he kept for several years as he wrote on the       
side. He graduated in 1950 with a degree in English and Philosophy.                   
Leonard had his first success in 1951 when Argosy published the short story "Trail     
of the Apache." During the '50s and early '60s, he continued writing westerns,         
publishing over 30 short stories. He wrote his first novel, "The Bounty Hunters,"     
in 1953 and followed this with four other novels. Two of his stories were turned       
into movies at this time, "The Tall T" and "3:10 to Yuma."                             
Leonard or "Dutch," as he is sometimes called got his first break in the fiction       
market during the 1950s, regularly publishing pulp western novels. He has since       
forayed into mystery, crime, and more topical genres, as well as screenwriting.       
Leonard now lives with his family in Oakland County, Michigan.                         
He has been commended by critics for his gritty realism and strong dialogue. His       
writing style sometimes takes liberties with grammar in the interest of speeding       
along the story. In his essay, "Elmore Leonard's Ten Rules of Writing," he             
writes, "My most important rule is one that sums up the 10: If it sounds like         
writing, I rewrite it." Also on the subject of what makes his books so readable,       
he has said that he leaves out the parts that readers skip.                           
Leonard has been called "the Dickens of Detroit" because of his intimate               
portraits of people from that city. Leonard's ear for dialogue and ability to         
render same on the printed page are uncanny and have been praised by writers           
such as Saul Bellow and Martin Amis. "Your prose makes Raymond Chandler look           
clumsy," Amis told Leonard at a Writers Guild Theatre event in Beverly Hills in