Jack Warner Schaefer, born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1907, though not a westerner by birth, is best known for his western novels. In fact, the Encyclopedia of Frontier and Western Fiction calls Schaefer "One of the most outstanding authors of Western fiction to emerge after World War II.." Schaefer became a novelist later in his life. Schaefer was raised in Ohio, where he attended Oberlin College. There, he specialized in Greek, Latin, and creative writing. He graduated from that institution in 1929. After briefly pursuing postgraduate studies in eighteenth-century English literature, Schaefer turned to a career in journalism, beginning as a reporter for the United Press. After working at various newspapers, he became editor of the New Haven Journal-Courier of New Haven, Connecticut, and served in that post from 1939-1942. He pursued his journalistic career until 1949.
In 1945, Schaefer began writing fiction in the evenings as a way to relax after work. This pastime soon turned into profession with the publication of his classic novel Shane in 1949. Since its initial publication, Shane has never been out of print, and it has now been translated into 31 languages. Though Schaefer is best-known for this novel, it is by no means his only achievement. Schaefer has published eight novels, eight collections of short stories, one play, and several pieces classified as juvenile fiction. Schaefer, however, claims he never wrote anything deliberately for any particular age group, but rather hopes his work is accessible and of interest to individuals of various age groups. The common themes in Schaefer's works are maturation, the individual's attempt to reconcile personal desires with the demands of society, the effects of western expansion on the land and those who live upon it, and the changing role of the individual in society. In later years, he addressed themes of environmentalism and nature. Schaefer received recognition for his work in the form of the Ohioana Book Award for his novel Old Ramon in 1961, as well as having this book named as an American Library Association Notable Book. He was given a distinguished achievement award from the Western Literature Association in 1975, and Shane was named the Best Western Novel by Writers of America in 1985. Schaefer died in 1991 at age 83 in Santa Fe, the hometown he adopted during his writing years.
From the guide to the Jack Schaefer Papers, 1920-1968, (University of New Mexico. Center for Southwest Research.)