Owen Wister was born in Pennsylvania in 1860. His father, a wealthy physician, sent him to school in Switzerland and Britain for a short time. He graduated from Harvard in 1882. He returned to Europe to study music, but after a year, his father ordered him home to work in the banking industry.
Wister began writing short stories in 1891. In 1895 his first volume of short stories was published. Two years later, his first novel was published. Wister was fascinated with western culture and the lore of the west and spent several summers in Wyoming. His visit to Yellowstone in 1893 helped establish his natural inclination toward western fiction.
He died of a stroke in 1938.
Plot Summary from Wikipedia
The novel begins with an unnamed narrator's arrival in Medicine Bow, Wyoming, from back East and his encounter with an impressively tall and handsome stranger. The stranger proves adept at roping horses, as well as facing down a gambler, Trampas, who calls him a son of a bitch. (At the time, the word was an unacceptable insult in any society, except between joking friends.) The stranger lays a pistol on the table and gently threatens "When you call me that, smile!". Known only as the Virginian, the stranger turns out to be the narrator's escort to Judge Henry's ranch in Sunk Creek, Wyoming. As the two travel the 263 miles to the ranch, the narrator, nicknamed the "tenderfoot" and the Virginian begin to come to know one another as the Tenderfoot slowly begins to understand the nature of life in the West, which is very different from what he expected. This meeting is the beginning of a lifelong friendship and the starting point of the narrator's recounting of key episodes in the life of the Virginian.