Born: 28 December 1933
Birthplace: El Dorado, Arkansas
Best known as:
The author of the book True Grit
Charles Portis is an American writer whose most famous novel is True Grit, which was the basis for successful films released in 1969 and 2010. Charles Portis grew up in eastern Arkansas, served in the U.S. Marines (1952-55) and studied journalism at the University of Arkansas. After completing his degree in 1958, Portis went to work as a reporter, first in Little Rock, then in New York City for the Herald Tribune. Portis was with the Herald Tribune from 1960 to 1964, when he decided to give it a go as a fiction writer. His first novel, Norwood, was published to favorable reviews in 1966. His second, the comic western True Grit, became a bestseller in 1968. It was the tale of a young woman in the west who hires a grizzled, hard-drinking marshall to help her find the outlaw who killed her father. The 1969 film version starred screen legend John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn, and Wayne won his first and only Oscar after 30 years as a movie star. The equally successful 2010 film version starred Jeff Bridges as Cogburn and Hailee Steinfeld as the book's heroine, Mattie Ross. The first film's success pushed the novel and Portis himself into the background, where he has since been comfortable enough to occasionally earn the description "reclusive." Portis's subsequent novels secured his place as a favorite among the literati; they include The Dog of the South (1979), Masters of Atlantis (1985) and Gringos (1991).
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